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With or Without You: A Memoir | [Domenica Ruta]

With or Without You: A Memoir

Domenica Ruta grew up in a working-class, unforgiving Italian town north of Boston where in the seventeenth century women were hanged as witches. Her mother, Kathi, a notorious figure in this hardscrabble place, was a drug addict and sometime dealer whose life swung between welfare and riches, whose highbrow taste was at odds with her base appetites.
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Publisher's Summary

A haunting, unforgettable mother-daughter story for a new generation - the debut of a blazing new lyrical voice

Domenica Ruta grew up in a working-class, unforgiving Italian town north of Boston where in the seventeenth century women were hanged as witches. Her mother, Kathi, a notorious figure in this hardscrabble place, was a drug addict and sometime dealer whose life swung between welfare and riches, whose highbrow taste was at odds with her base appetites. And yet she managed, despite the chaos she created, to instill in her daughter the idea that art - via a classic film or a classical education - 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’s unconventional coming of age - a darkly hilarious chronicle of a misfit ’90s childhood and the necessary and painful act of breaking away, and of overcoming her own addictions and demons in the process. In a brilliant stylistic feat, Domenica Ruta has penned a powerful, inspiring, pause-resisting, and finally redemptive story about loving and leaving.

©2013 Domenica Ruta (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

“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)

“ ‘Make it new,’ Ezra Pound directed, and Domenica Ruta has. Difficult childhoods are plentiful, the talent to transform adversity into art 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)

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (64 )
5 star
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4.1 (60 )
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4.3 (59 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Courtney Falls church, VA, United States 03-02-13
    Courtney Falls church, VA, United States 03-02-13 Member Since 2011

    As an only child, books were my world. I love to read and audiobooks are essential in my world today. I must admit I am somewhat dependent (addicted?) to audible audiobooks. Too easy. Too good!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A real and riveting story-beautifully written"

    This book makes up for every dud I have listened to on audible. The author is unflinching, unyielding in her description of the insanity and chaos she grew up in, yet she doesn't ask for the reader's sympathy or pity. The love-hate-fear triad she feels for her drug-addicted mother is what makes the story so compelling. As in real life, this book is all shades of gray. A mother who neglects her child, shares drugs with her child, turns a blind eye to sexual abuse, but at the same time is determined to secure the best education for her. A mother who seems to care only about getting high and being in love, yet turns a small, failing business into a million dollar enterprise. And then loses it all to drugs.
    The author does an incredible job at portraying a relationship fraught with ambivalence and fear. She has an overwhelming love for her mother, yet prays for her death so as to release her from the bondage of codependency and pain. The redemption comes when the author's instinct for self-preservation appears and she begins the journey to find her authentic self.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Golladay Greenville, SC USA 03-15-13
    E. Golladay Greenville, SC USA 03-15-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Wow! My Mom Never Looked Better!"

    Domenica Ruta rose above a troubled, scary childhood, and although she probably carries a lot of baggage, it looks like she turned out ALL RIGHT! She is a fantastic narrator and could have a career doing that if she wanted to, Very clear, strong voice with humor. This was a good story very well told.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mandy Payne Hollywood, CA 05-16-13
    Mandy Payne Hollywood, CA 05-16-13

    Is it just me?

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Unbelievably Good"

    This audio book was the best I've heard in a long time. What an amazingly sad yet upbeat story. This book hit me on a very personal level, one which I wish I had the gift to share articulately. But, for me, a story this visceral is beyond description.

    Reminiscent of Glass Castle, but better.

    I started listening and did not stop until it was over.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kris Garden Grove, CA, United States 05-02-13
    kris Garden Grove, CA, United States 05-02-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Beautifully told story of dysfunction"
    What did you love best about With or Without You?

    I always like a success story. So many people have grown up in dysfunction, and it is inspirational to hear of people who survive and thrive whatever craziness they have been through.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Dominca's cadence and the way she delivers her story, with humor and believability.


    What about Domenica Ruta’s performance did you like?

    The story is told so matter of fact. She doesn't whine or "woe is me". She doesn't present herself as a victim, she just shares her story...and what a story!


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, if I could have, I would have.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm very impressed with this woman. The only thing that puzzles me is how she ever felt herself unattractive. I looked up her picture on line - she is gorgeous!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melinda UT 03-05-13
    Melinda UT 03-05-13 Member Since 2009

    So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "All too common and insidious tale"

    You know this story; you may be living it -- or your neighbor is, your friends, your family. You no longer have to attend AA, NA, ALANON, to hear this kind of horror story because addicition is no respecter of persons and infects us all in some way, or will. When I was working in my profession, I heard worse stories, and I don't doubt many of you could unfortunately tell a darker version of Ruta's journey. (It breaks my heart.)

    This was not exactly what I had expected after reading some summaries. I mistakenly thought Ruta was someone of whom we were socially or publicly aware that had revealed an unexpected past. I haven't found any information about Domenica Ruta other than that she is a Survivor--which absolutely doesn't diminish the relevance of her book. What gives this book credence is the fact that Ruta is bravely telling it; adding another voice to both the issue and Hope, because if you have faced this monster in some form, you know that Hope needs constant reaffirming, and the conquering deserves praise and support. Overall a very readable, well written, and engaging story worth the time. Great achievement Ruta, and best wishes for continued success.

    12 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maureen McDaniel 07-23-13
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    "Jaw-dropping, riveting, amazing book"
    What made the experience of listening to With or Without You the most enjoyable?

    The story moves beautifully between time frames. The writing is full of vivid, shocking imagery, with creative and original phrases.


    What about Domenica Ruta’s performance did you like?

    The author's voice is compelling and she reads her own work so very well.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, because I could hardly stop listening!


    Any additional comments?

    I can't wait for more from Domenica Ruta. She is a fascinating and truly gifted writer.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hal Miami, FL, United States 03-06-13
    Hal Miami, FL, United States 03-06-13 Member Since 2005
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    "This is trash"
    What disappointed you about With or Without You?

    As soon as I started listening to this, my first impulse was to trash it as trash. And I have not changed my opinion – but only put it into context – the natural work of a trashy culture. It is not literature – but people are no longer interested in that. They want trash – and Domenica Ruta knows how to dish that out.

    She has a big advantage over me – she can remember her dysfunctional childhood – in amazing detail. I cannot remember much of anything before I was ten. It was too terrible for me to remember – and no one who was there during that terrible time wanted to remember it either.

    Her family relished their terrible lives and wanted to remember all of it. Not knowing that one of their own would cash in on it with this book.


    5 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mitchell Osceola, IN, United States 04-05-13
    mitchell Osceola, IN, United States 04-05-13 Member Since 2012
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    "life is not book worthy"
    What would have made With or Without You better?

    a better life story
    Someone who is not monotone and dull
    a better ending for sure
    That is really it...a better life story


    Has With or Without You turned you off from other books in this genre?

    no


    Would you be willing to try another one of Domenica Ruta’s performances?

    no


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    disappointment


    0 of 5 people found this review helpful
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