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T'Ann D. (Amityville, New York)
A Mature View
The description of With or Without You compared the book to another memoir, Glass Castle. I was hesitant to read Domenica Ruta's memoir because I had found Glass Castle to be very negative and dark. However, Miss Ruta was able to bring humor and compassion to her recollections.
Carolyn (Summerville, SC)
Hard to say how I feel...
Having grown up in an alcoholic home, I understand how it is easy to be judgmental and bitter about childhood situations. Miss Ruta showed maturity and wisdom when describing her very different mother. It seemed to me that she was able to look back with Pollyana eyes and appreciate her mother for what she was. How often do our expectations cause us to miss the value of the person close to us?
I couldn't write this review immediately after reading WITH OR WITHOUT YOU. It is a very readable memoir about growing up as the daughter of an alcoholic drug addict who wants all the same things for her daughter, and is afraid to turn in the pedophile "uncle" because of what he knows about HER. What a terrible life Nikki had, yet she doesn't seem to feel sorry for herself. I do have to wonder how she could recall so much of her earlier life, considering the amount of drugs and booze she consumed. I can't say that I enjoyed the book, but it is quite a powerful, well-written story, and I hope the author's recovery continues.
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.
Barbara O. (Maryland Heights, MO)
A different Mother/Daughter Love
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.
"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.
Judy K. (Sunland, CA)
Extremely dark and incredibly real
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.
I started this memoir expecting another Glass Castle. It is not that. The writing is not lyrical but dry; even the bit of humor is dry. Domenica Ruta was raised by a drug addicted mother who did her best to fuel a daughter's addictions. Though her biological father lived close by in their small working class town, he had his own problems and Domenica's need for attention and nurturing developed into a love/hate relationship with this highly toxic mother.
Christine B. (st. paul, MN)
With or Without You
About halfway through the memoir, the balance shifted. The young girl was a reader destined to become a writer. The series of circumstances that led to that destiny, involving both help and more hurt from her mother, finally enabled Domenica to get control of her own life. By the end, I had been reading as fast as I could just to see what would happen next.
With or Without You is most similar to Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? as far as memoirs go. I would not call it redemptive or hopeful but it is powerful and compulsively readable.
I enjoyed this memoir, but of all that I have read I would place this in the middle. Domenica's accounting of her childhood and abuse in some places is left somewhat ambiguous. She also jumps around a lot from one part of her life to another without logical transition. I did like her writing style and find it remarkable that she conquered her childhood demons.