With or Without You: Book summary and reviews of With or Without You by Domenica Ruta

With or Without You

A Memoir

by Domenica Ruta

With or Without You
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Feb 2013
    224 pages
    Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

A haunting, unforgettable memoir for a new generation - the debut of a blazing new lyrical voice.

Domenica Ruta grew up in Danvers, Massachusetts, in a ramshackle, rundown, trash-filled house with her mother, a drug dealer and user who raised Domenica on a steady diet of Oxycontin. Growing up, Domenica knew she didn't fit in - she was far smarter and worse dressed than everyone else she knew, and she clearly had the most flamboyant mother of anyone in town - but she found solace in writing and reading. As she grew older, though, and as her mother's behavior grew increasingly outrageous and her home life increasingly untenable, Domenica fled Danvers only to become ensared by the demons of addiction.

A thoroughly textured and masterfully written book, layered with wildly colorful characters, a biting sense of humor, and penetrating, deeply sympathetic insights, With or Without You finally ends with Domenica's increasing awareness that she must leave the life she grew up with in order to survive.

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Survival required separation, and Ruta's account is a fairly dry, restrained chronicle of a wrenching embrace of health and sobriety." - Publishers Weekly

"A sharp portrayal of recovery from a lifetime of pitfalls and the love that held it all together." - Kirkus

"Freakishly brilliant, brilliantly freakish, this is one of the best memoirs I have ever read. Domenica Ruta has done something every artist with a failed family must do: She has created herself." - Gary Shteyngart

"'Make it new,' Ezra Pound directed, and Domenica Ruta has. Difficult childhoods are plentiful; the talent to transform adversity into art is in short supply. Unflinching in its regard, forgiving in its humor, With or Without You is that rare thing, a story you think you know transformed into one you have to read to the end." - Kathryn Harrison

"In the world of memoir, Mary Karr's and Geoffrey Wolff's exceptional books burn and brighten, like actual stars among strings of tinsel. With or Without You is like that. I will read whatever Domenica Ruta writes." - Amy Bloom

The information about With or Without You shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

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.

CW

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.

...31 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Information

More Information

Domenica Ruta was born and raised in Danvers, Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. She was a finalist for the Keene Prize for Literature and has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Blue Mountain Center, Jentel, and Hedgebrook.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more biographies & memoirs...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Boy Erased
    Boy Erased
    by Garrard Conley
    Growing up in rural Arkansas, Garrard Conley did not quite fit the mold of his strait-laced, ...
  • Book Jacket: The Bones of Grace
    The Bones of Grace
    by Tahmima Anam
    The Bones of Grace completes Tahmima Anam's Bangladesh trilogy. The three novels, which can be ...
  • Book Jacket
    Find Me Unafraid
    by Kennedy Odede, Jessica Posner
    With staggering emotional weight and keen awareness of love and humanity even in the darkest places,...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    by Bryn Greenwood

    A memorable coming-of-age tale about loyalty, defiance, and the power of love.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach

    "An auspicious, gut-wrenching, wonderful debut." - Kirkus, starred review

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.