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With or Without You: A Memoir by Domenica…
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With or Without You: A Memoir

by Domenica Ruta

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2005358,368 (3.83)3
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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
She lived the next town over from me so I was interested in reading it but ended up feeling like so much of her story was my story. ( )
  bogopea | Mar 23, 2014 |
"Miserable Childhood of the Month" saga straight outta Danvers, MA, which in no way denigrates this excellent memoir by Domenica Ruta. I wonder what percentage of successful writers and/or humans are the children of raging monsters. Nikki's mother manages to help her get into Phillips Andover, which makes a tremendous change but does not save her. Nikki, whose mother celebrates her first hit of Oxycontin (Oscar), despises the fact that her daughter has become an alcoholic. The damage is devastating, with some family members (grandmother, father, stepmother) awful and good in turns. Today Nikki is in recovery and out of contact with her mother. It seems that she's got no where to go but better than where she started.
Also give a listen: http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&... ( )
  froxgirl | Mar 17, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A memoir about a dysfunctional family, addition and uncertainty. The book was good, but not in the class of some other autobiographic books such as The Glass Castle. ( )
  klockrike | Oct 14, 2013 |
Check out this review and others like it at BadAssBookReviews

Domenica Ruta’s book is a brutally honest portrait of her childhood, her mother, her family and of herself. Although the subject matter is ugly and disturbing, Ruta writes it in such a beautifully and addictive way. I could not put this book down. My home life was the far opposite of Ruta’s, but on the pages of this book I lived her childhood with her. I felt like crying and I did laugh out loud multiple times. Ruta has a gift for taking the reader where she wants and giving the reader an experience of a new and different life.

Domenica is the girl you may have known at school that your parents wouldn’t let you socialize with or maybe you were friends with her, but your mom wouldn’t let you go over to her house. Domenica’s tale is amazing and shocking. Her mother is a self-centered woman and an addict of everything – violence, drugs, drinking, eating and tv/movies. Domenica often goes to school in dirty, worn out clothes and describes herself (unfairly) to be an unattractive young girl.
“On a good day, I was and still am often startled by what the mirror has to offer.”
Her father is physically abusive and scary. Both parents are unprepared to parent, not entirely unwilling to parent, but unprepared.
“Neither of my parents tired of telling me how gorgeous everyone thought they were when they were young. Pride like this is both tyrannical and tragic, for the chief function of pride is to usher in the fall.”
“Listen, you have no idea what it’s like to be really good-looking,” my father said.
“I’d feel sorry for your future husband,” my father said grinning, “but who would ever be crazy enough to marry a cow like you?”
“Honey,” my mother asked in a plaintive voice, “why do you always look like a fat forty-year old lesbian?”

Despite their flaws, Ruta’s love for her parents and her family shines through the words on the pages in this book.

Dominica grew up in a household where she was repeatedly told that she was unattractive, was strewn with garbage and drug paraphernalia and yet, she loved to read, she loved to learn and she was driven to succeed. How does this happen? How does a drug running and drug-using mother raise an author? Despite being completely self-focused and bizarrely unprepared to mother, Domenica’s other is obsessed with her succeeding in life. She learns about boarding school, ballet lessons and makes these happen for her daughter. Despite living in poverty and being relatively uneducated herself, she is determined to give her daughter these opportunities. Yet, she wants her daughter to succeed on her terms…

“My mother was always hounding me to get pregnant while I was in high school.”
“My mother didn’t fuss over me as much once I started smoking pot. She seemed relieved.”

In the end, the book is about a daughter’s love for her mother but who also has a desperate need to separate from her mother’s abuse and dysfunction in order to survive. Stories about mothers and alcohol abuse are usually not my thing, but I loved this book. If you like to read and experience something different from who you are, this book will take you there. ( )
  ReginaR | Aug 3, 2013 |
Really enjoyed this book. Well written and kept me turning pages late into the night. The only thing kept me form a 5 star is the flow got confusing at times. Especially towards the end things took on a more frantic pace and became less defined. Excellent book though. Very gripping. ( )
  justablondemoment | Jul 18, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
You were sick, but now you're well, and there's work to do.--Kurt Vonnegut
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For her
First words
My mother grabbed the iron poker from the fireplace and said, "Get in the car."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Domenica Ruta grew up in a working-class, unforgiving town north of Boston, in a trash-filled house on a dead-end road surrounded by a river and a salt marsh. Her mother, Kathi, a notorious local figure, was a drug addict and sometimes dealer whose life swung between welfare and riches. And yet she managed, despite the chaos she created, to instill in her daughter a love of stories. Despite the fact that there was not a book to be found in her household, Domenica developed a love of reading, which helped her believe that she could transcend this life of undying grudges, self-inflicted misfortune, and the crooked moral code that Kathi and her cohorts lived by. With or Without You is the story of Domenica Ruta's unconventional coming of age and the necessary and painful act of breaking away, and of overcoming her own addictions and demons in the process.… (more)

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