Tuesday, March 19, 2013

With or Without You; Domenica Ruta

Title: With or Without You (memoir)
Author: Domenica Ruta
Publication Year: 2013
Publisher: Spiegel and Grau
Edition:  ARC

Source: Amazon Vine
Date Completed: March - 2013
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes

With Or Without You, is a memoir written by 33-year old Domenica Ruta who grew up in Danvers, Massachusetts. She was raised in an unstable environment with her unpredictable, drug addicted mother, Kathi.

Kathi and her friends who came and went added to the chaos is in the home, were smoking, drinking and drug use were commonplace. Domenica (Nicki) loved to read at an early age yet rarely was a book to be found in the home, yet her mother ofter kept her daughter home from school so the (2) could watch movies together. With a trash strewn house, people coming and going, friends were not easy to come by for Nicki, and once someone did come home with her, it was pretty understood, that would be a first and last time. Nicki vows early on never to grow up to be like her mother, but we all know that sometimes that is easier said than done.

Despite being raised in poverty, her mother always wanted more for her daughter, and despite the home environment Kathi created, it was clear she loved her daughter. Often when their welfare check would come in, she would insist on spending some of the money on a "designed outfit" for her daughter. She was also determined to find a way to send her intelligent, daughter to Catholic school, because the public schools in their blue-collar town were substandard. She even found ways to get her daughter interviews at the best private prep schools, which eventually led to acceptance at one as well. Kathi's goal for her daughter was that she would get to meet wealthy, cultured people her age, and see how other people lived. At one point Kathi even manages to rise above poverty, buy a home and even to run a successful business for a while.

This memoir seemed brutally honest, yet parts seemed hard for me to fathom. The story held my interest and even made me laugh at times, yet the writing seemed scattered at times. Although my childhood was far from ideal, it's hard to imagine growing up in this situation and rising above it all. Well written and recommended.


  1. It does sound as if this would be a tough story to read, but at least the Kathi tried to help her daughter instead of pulling her down into the life that she lived. It sounds like it was often a sad book though. I might like to read this one at some point.

  2. I can see that happening. Sometimes it's painful to work with kids knowing what they will be going home to. I would like to read this one.

  3. This is one I might have passed on if I just saw a synopsis; it's just so hard to read these kinds of books. But it sounds like this one does have something unique to offer and with great writing, it will definitely be on my radar.

  4. I'm just finishing my review and posting it with a link to yours. Agree that the writing made the awful details of her story easier to read about. I'll be watching to see if the author follows up with a novel.


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