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Extended Audio Sample With or Without You, by Domenica Ruta Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (826 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Domenica Ruta Narrator: Domenica Ruta Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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 whose highbrow taste was at odds with her hardscrabble life. And yet she managed, despite the chaos she created, to instill in her daughter a love of stories. Kathi frequently kept Domenica home from school to watch such classics as the Godfather movies and everything by Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, telling her, “This is more important. I promise. You’ll thank me later.” And 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, a darkly hilarious chronicle of a misfit 1990s youth 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, Ruta has written a powerful, inspiring, compulsively readable, and finally redemptive story about loving and leaving.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “‘Make it new,’ Ezra Pound directed, and Domenica Ruta has…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, New York Times bestselling author

  • “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, New York Times bestselling author

  • “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, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Too often the memoir category sacrifices good writing to the quick pulse of the storyline, but Domenica Ruta is a real and excellent writer who has language by the throat. She writes with big beauty, deep respect for language, and drives her story with huge humanism, empathy, and humor.”

    Gabrielle Hamilton, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Stunning…Comes across as a bleaker, funnier, R-rated version of The Glass Castle.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Gloriously gutsy memory-work.”


  • “This book is a luminous, layered accomplishment.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Powerful…wicked funny…Ruta writes with unflinching honesty.”


  • “Valiant and heartbreaking.”


  •  “A rare, unfeigned mother-daughter story.”

    Barnes&Noble.com, editorial review

  • “The intensity of the clear-eyed manner in which Ruta conveys her abiding frustration with the parents who failed their child so casually and monumentally is exceedingly powerful stuff.”


  • “A sharp portrayal of recovery from a lifetime of pitfalls and the love that held it all together.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for March 2013
  • Third-Place Winner of the 2013 Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Nonfiction
  • Selected for the March 2013 Indie Next List
  • A 2013 Entertainment Weekly Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2013 New York Times Editor’s Choice

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Karen Skinner | 2/6/2014

    " This book was a difficult read. Mostly, I think, because I was envious. I, like many obsessed readers, really want to be a writer. Ruta was brutally honest in this memoir, especially when it was hateful and ugly. We all have stories, but most of us, certainly me, lack the courage to tell the real, honest to God one, and Ruta clearly doesn't. Plates of drugs, piles of trash, throw-a-way loves - all this laid at the feet of a rotten mother. Maybe she (Ruta) will have coffee with me one day and tell me how to do it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Amantha | 1/31/2014

    " I don't think I can accurately describe why this memoir impacted me so much more strongly than, say, The Glass Castle. I think it may have something to do with the way Jeanette Walls simply turned around and walked away from everything and came out more or less unscathed, whereas Domenica Ruta had to fight her way out of her past and heritage, kicking and screaming. I felt Ruta's struggle far more keenly than I did Walls'. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Erica | 1/27/2014

    " The story is somewhat dark, but reminded me of my relationship with my mother. I could relate so much that I may have enjoyed it more than others. However, her writing style is wonderful. She has a way of writing that can range from sweet melodic poetry to slam sarcastic poetry. Really enjoyed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by C Rishoi | 1/25/2014

    " Ruta is compared favorably to Mary Karr. I don't think she is nearly as good as Karr. "

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