With or Without You

  • by Domenica Ruta
  • Narrated by Domenica Ruta
  • 7 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Courtney "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!"

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.
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- Mel

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-26-2013
  • Publisher: Random House Audio