With Or Without You

With Or Without You

by Domenica Ruta
4.1 33


$13.39 $17.00 Save 21% Current price is $13.39, Original price is $17. You Save 21%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Eligible for FREE SHIPPING
  • Get it by Wednesday, October 25 ,  Order by 12:00 PM Eastern and choose Expedited Delivery during checkout.
    Same Day delivery in Manhattan. 


With Or Without You by Domenica Ruta


A haunting, unforgettable mother-daughter story for a new generation—the debut of a blazing new lyrical voice
Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

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 ’90s 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.
Praise for With or Without You

“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
“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
“Exceedingly powerful.”—Booklist

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812983401
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/11/2014
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 351,960
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.67(d)

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

With or Without You: A Memoir 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
DubaiReader1 More than 1 year ago
Living with an alcoholic drug addict. Domenica Ruta's memoir about growing up in Danves Massachusetts, with her alcoholic, druggie mother, was an eye opening read. Often I felt that the young Domenica (Nikki) was caring for her mother rather than the other way around. Even as a youngster, Nikki was encouraged to drink alcohol and ingest Oxycontin and as a teenager, her mother was recommending pregnancy for her young daughter. Nikki was intelligent enough to realise that her only escape would be through education and she earned herself the scholarships that enabled her to attend good schools and obtain a degree. Her childhood never left her however, as she became more and more ensnared by alcohol. For ten years she lived in government housing, struggling through her days in an alcoholic stupor. Eventually she found a group of recovering alcoholics and a fair portion of the book describes the depression that she fought as a by product of recovery. Meanwhile Niiki's mother was calling her daughter incessantly, ranting and raving down the phone, until the only recourse left was to break all ties and have no contact at all. This was a powerful love/hate relationship, even thousands of miles apart, Nikki was drawn to her disfunctional parent. It is a tragic tale which left me wondering how people like Nikki's mother were even allowed to raise children in the first place. One would hope that these days the children would be rescued but I'm sure there are still some who slip through the net. This book reminded me of Unravelling Anne by Laurel Saville (3.5 stars).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent memoir. She is laugh out loud funny in some parts and sit back and contemplate in others. Brutally honest writing ..just how a memoir should be. The life of an addict from the outside in and from the inside out. I'm sad it's over.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
Memoirs about people growing up in tough family situations are abundant. I just reviewed Jeanette Winterson's poetic Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?, and Jeanette Walls' The Glass Castle is a book I reviewed and recommended to many people over the past few years. Domenica Ruta's With Or Without You is a searing, honest look at her life growing up with a mother who was an alcoholic and drug addict, and wanted her daughter to have the same life. Her mother kept Domenica home from school to watch classic movies; she felt this was a better education for her daughter. The book opens with the mother, Kathleen, taking her young daughter along while she bashed in the windshield of romantic rival's car. The destruction she placed upon that woman's car is a metaphor for the destruction she would wreak upon her daughter's life. Like Winsterson, literature and books became a savior for Domenica."Reading seemed to be a skill I'd somehow picked up on my own. In an extended family where people stumbled- and stumbled proudly- over three-syllable words, such a drooling little fiend for literature was endearing to no one. (It should be noted that even the most illiterate of my clan knew their way around a food stamp application, a subpoena, and a workman's compensation claim. We were nothing if not adroit at manipulating the system.)" As she grew up, her mother did her best to lure Domenica into her drug-addicted lifestyle. Domenica did her best to avoid it, but eventually she succumbed. She believed that going to college and getting away from her mother would save her. If only her mother didn't send care packages of drugs to college with her. Domenica writes honestly of her struggles with alcohol, drugs and her inability to have a romantic relationship. She runs away to Texas believing that only distance from her mother can save her. But her mother calls constantly, begging for money, pushing the guilt, harassing her daughter until the only thing Domenica can do is cut off all ties to her mother. I particularly enjoyed the chapter where she worked as a recreation aide in a nursing home. She felt comfortable with those people, more at home with them than with her younger friends. She writes lovingly of a man named Saul who has lost his wife of sixty years, who became her compatriot. With Or Without You will hit home with anyone who has had addiction issues or lived with anyone with addiction issues. Domenica Ruta writes with a clear-eyed honesty, which is remarkable considering how drunk and drugged up she was at times. Her decision to cut ties with the woman who gave her life and raised her probably saved her life, but is heartbreaking for her nonetheless. We don't know at the end whether Domenica will make it, but her journey is unforgettable.
kenjud More than 1 year ago
Fun read. Full of emotional twists and turns. I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was reluctant to read yet another memoir about an abusive and crazy mother but this one was well worth every second and more - i flew through it and wanted more.
Gingersnap000 More than 1 year ago
Memoirs are one my favorite genres of literature especially those dealing with "real people." The line which hooked me into reading this book was ",,,and she grow-up in Danvers, MA." where my children and husband shared her hometown. Danvers is not a poor mill town and not all houses are falling down but just the opposite. It is a town which does not forgive if you are not part of the cookie cutter pattern of the social leaders of the Commmunity. As Ms. Ruta described her experience at St. Mary's School, I felt her pain because an outsider can shunned in this town. Her Mother, Kathi was certainly larger than life; a former Glory Girl of Danvers High School. She had visions of grandeur for her daugher. Domenica becoming a well educated single mother. Kathi made me laugh with her narcissism behavior and cry when the disease of alcoholism and drug addicition took over the life of a woman who did have a good business mind. Ms. Ruta wriiting of her own life was heart wrenching and wished that some one in her tribe of lunatics would have come to her rescue. How she was able to overcome her childhood and own addiction and become such a talent writer is beyond my scope.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am making my daughter read this book over winter vacation because it is so well written and she needs to hear a little bit of what it was like foother kid. I loved the story because it is so real. I saw this for myself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NIKKI CAME FROM A DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY . I REad this BOOK IN Two days it was very interestimg .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This gloriously written book was truly a pleasure to read.  I am not prone to reading memoirs since they are often saccharin and not well written; but this book was thoughtful, insightful and written by a wonderful writer. It is interesting that many reviewers found the story unbelievable. I think this is a function of the fact that the author has not only survived hardship, but emerged with brilliance and even grace. As Domenica Ruta shows us, people can survive horrible things. This book offers realistic hope and inspiration.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
robinpeggy More than 1 year ago
One of the best memoirs I've read.  
sjziegler More than 1 year ago
booksbysteph says "You Can See a Part of Yourself in Her True Life Stories" Domenica Ruta had a love/hate relationship with her mother. Highly dysfunctional. Born to teenage parents and raised in a drug house, it does not surprise that she turned to drugs as well. Yet she maintained this incredible mind and gift of knowledge. Her mother always found a way to give her the best of everything including fancy boarding schools (with the help of scholarships) yet resented the fact Domenica was so far away from her.  Her mother needed her in a way that psychiatrists can properly define and Domenica had an overwhelming desire to be loved by her mother. If Domenica achieved in one thing, her mother focused on her failure of another or made her feel like a failure. It took a lot of strength and 1400 miles to decide to cut her mother from her life and she did not make it easy on Domenica. Domenica never thought her gallon a day drinking habit was a problem.  I GIVE THIS BOOK: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars Each chapter has many stories and you will find yourself connecting to the stories in some way. I desperately wanted my mother to love me but I could never life up to her ever-changing and unreachable standards. Fortunately, I refused to even try any drugs because I knew I would become lost in a sea of glossy-eyed stoners. When I finally realized, like Domenica, that my life was less toxic without my mother in it, the pain does not get easier with each passing day. While Domenica is trying to overcome her battles with alcohol, I am dealing with issues associated with Depression.  Writing this book was most likely very difficult and emotional to write. Remembering stories of her loved ones. In a good story, there was a twist of bad and in a bad story there was a glimpse of good. I praise Domenica for her courage to write this book and the strength to overcome her challenges - one day at a time.  Until next time, live life one page at a time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I appreciate the sharing that Domenica has painfully shared. This book reminded me so much of "Glass Castle" because of the raw things she had to admit to herself as well as her readers. While it is unbelievable that she made it out of this childhood alive she has will help all of us come to terms with things we had no control over and heal.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed reading this beautiful & tragic memoir. It opens your eyes to a life of hardship, struggle, and recovery. This book is  a wonderful read that I would recommend to anyone.