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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: February 2013 ISBN: 9780385360968
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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

  • Stunning . . . comes across as a bleaker, funnier, R-rated version of The Glass Castle and marks the arrival of a blazing new voice in literature. Entertainment Weekly
  • Valiant and heartbreaking. Bust
     
  • Powerful . . . Ruta found an unconventional voice, a scary good mixture of erudition and hardened street smarts. Her writing is also, as they say in Danvers, wicked funny—though in her case wicked is more an adjective than an intensifier. . . . [With or Without You] hums with jangled energy and bristles with sharp edges. . . . Ruta writes with unflinching honesty. Slate
     
  • Bracingly funny and poignant. The Boston Globe
     
  • Domenica Ruta is a real and excellent writer who has language by the throat. She writes with big beauty and drives her story with huge humanism, empathy, and humor. Gabrielle Hamilton, author of Blood, Bones & Butter
  • 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, author of Enchantments
  • “‘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

  • Exceedingly powerful. Booklist
  • A luminous, layered accomplishment. The New York Times Book Review
  • A singular new coming-of-age memoir traces one girl’s twisting path up from mean streets (and parents) to the reflective life of a writer. . . . The burgeoning canon of literary memoir . . . begets another winner in Domenica Ruta’s searing With or Without You. . . . [A] gloriously gutsy memory-work. Elle
  • 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, author of Where the God of Love Hangs Out
  • 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, author of Super Sad True Love Story
  • “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.”

    Elle

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

    New York Times Book Review

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

    Slate

  • “Valiant and heartbreaking.”

    Bust

  •  “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.”

    Booklist

  • “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 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 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 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 C Rishoi | 1/25/2014

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

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barb | 1/19/2014

    " I just won this book. And now I finished it and really enjoyed it. I have read other memoirs such as Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses, and enjoyed them also. But this book isn't like the others with physical abuse, it is a modern day book written by a girl in her early thirties telling you her story of her addicted mother, her funny Italian grandmother and her father. Great book. Could not put it down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shari Wampler | 1/9/2014

    " Really deserves 3 1/2 stars. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Jo | 1/4/2014

    " What a powerful, scary, and funny memoir! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kim | 12/21/2013

    " I have a weakness for bad childhood/recovering alcoholic/addict memoirs. This was a good one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 12/10/2013

    " Well written & honest, without being too heavy. In some ways it reminded me of the Glass Castle. Powerful and inspiring to read Ms. Ruta's story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susie | 11/14/2013

    " I really enjoyed it. It is a memoir of a child raised by a drug addicted mother. It could have been maudlin and emotional. Instead, the author finds joy and humor in a life too many would label as sad. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kevin | 7/31/2013

    " As funny as it is dark, this examination of Ruta's intense relationship with her mother is superbly written, intimately detailed, and surprisingly compassionate in all the right places. A fantastic debut. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 7/14/2013

    " The book started off a little slow but I really enjoyed it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brendan Adams | 5/4/2013

    " Made me laugh out loud, even in the darkest moments. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 ML Delaney | 4/19/2013

    " Super painful in a great, cathartic way. Liked this more than I thought I would. Very grateful a friend recommended this. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Teresa | 2/21/2013

    " Wonderful book! I hope to read more by Nicky soon! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cassie ♥ | 1/24/2013

    " 2 1/2 Stars. Was not bad. I had just read another memoir with a dysfunctional mother. I did like the way she owned up to her own mistakes: it wasn't all about the dysfunctional mother. May have been better if she were older and had had a successful marriage and children. "

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About the Author
Domenica Ruta was born and raised in Danvers, Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. She was a finalist for the Keene Prize for Literature and has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Blue Mountain Center, Jentel, and Hedgebrook.