Kristina K. (Glendale, CA)
With or Without You
The description on the back of the book hales it as "a darkly hilarious chronicle of a misfit '90s childhood." This description doesn't do this memoir justice. In beautifully fluid and poetic prose, Domenica Ruta presents her life's story much like she describes her experience of sobriety, where "memories return slowly and in the wrong order." And it's impossible not to feel the raw pain sandwiched between her wry or lyric observations. Not since Dorothy Allison's autobiographical novel "Bastard Out of Carolina" or Jeannette Wall's "The Glass Castle" have I read a memoir this powerful. Depicting complicated, dysfunctional family relationships plagued with abuse and addiction, Ruta also presents the rare, glimmering moments of kindness that, as those of us who have survived similar families know, keep the darkness from swallowing us whole.
Vicky R. (Cumming, GA)
Courage and survival
I had to continue to remind myself that this story was nonfiction. It's hard for most of us to imagine that someone - a little girl - can grow up in this environment and not only survive but end up thriving (although obviously not without emotional scars). A mesmerizing story, often full of despair and sadness, but the author manages to inject it periodically with doses of comedy and laughter. If I were to be granted a wish list of people I could have lunch with...the author would top my list.
With or without you
Domenica Ruta's memoir is akin to a scab that you can't resist picking. Excruciatingly painful to read, With or without You insists that the reader continue Domenica's journey, hoping for her redemption. Ruta's description of her surroundings is hauntingly graphic. She is able to capture the people and places in a manner that is all too real. As I was rooting for her survival, I was also grieved by the choices she made that lead to her near destruction. This was an easy read in the sense that the story was compelling. I just kept wishing that it was fiction.
Rosemary C. (Austin, TX)
With or Without You
Without a doubt, Domenica Ruta can write. She's a wordsmith with a compelling story to tell. In a poignant, horrifying, and sometimes humorous memoir we get a glimpse of her chaotic, confusing and depressing life with a very mentally ill mother. Domenica's obviously strong inner resources prevail as she pulls herself out of that world of drugs and craziness. I found myself cheering her on and thinking that I'll be sure to read the next book she writes. She's that good.
Gail G. (Northbrook, Illinois)
With or Without You by Domenica Ruta
I could not read this book in one sitting. I needed to distance myself from the emotionality and debilitating actions it. The descriptions of her life experiences brought out very emotional responses from me.
The family she grew up in was dysfunctional to to the extreme. Her mother was an abuser of drugs and alcohol and encouraged her to do the same. In addition to the drugs and alcohol abuse, Mother also abused her verbally.
The writing is exceptional and the young girl's experiences are almost unbelievable but you know they are true. She explains them factually and without emotion, and she let us into her life and we can totally live through it with her. How she managed to get through college and grad school is a miracle and in the end she is able to release herself from the bondage she has been in her whole life, another miracle. She knows herself well and projects this to the reader. I can't say I enjoyed the story without reservation because of its darkness but the strength of that girl/woman was amazing.
Barbara O. (Maryland Heights, MO)
A different Mother/Daughter Love
"With or Without You" is a dark memoir of a childhood spent surrounded by drugs and alcohol and a dysfunctional mother and father. Yet despite the darkness there are bright rays of light filled with love and humor. I loved this story and look forward to reading more by this entertaining new author.
Book-Lover (Dover, NH)
With or Without You Review
I wold compare this memoir to The Glass Castle meets A Million Little Pieces. Raw, heartbreaking, with touches of dry humor to give you, the reader, hope...this book will eat at your heart strings. It is a memoir about an abusive mother/daughter relationship with strong, bold characters who hit rock bottom more than once. It will definitely appeal to adults both young and old and book clubs will devour it. There are so many possibilities for discussion that can reach us all as vulnerable humans.
I believe we should all be open to reading books of this subject matter as it makes us all aware that life is not perfect all the time. The characters in this book did hit rock bottom, but with hope and help, they are survivors.
Thank you for letting me read an advanced copy. It was a privilege I won't forget.