With or Without You: A Memoir
Title: With or Without You: A Memoir
Author: Domenica Ruta
A memoir of the author’s relationship with her flamboyant drug dealer mother describes her misfit youth and eventual escape into writing before succumbing to addiction and resolving to leave her past in order to survive.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
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 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
“Bracingly funny and poignant.”—The Boston Globe
“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
“A singular new coming-of-age memoir traces one girl’s twisting path up from the mean streets (and parents) to the reflective life of a writer. . . . The burgeoning canon of literary memoir—spiked with a generous pour of 12-step-program confessional—begets another winner in Domenica Ruta’s searing With or Without You. . . . In spite of the glaring deficits in her life, Ruta was born ‘with a wolfish appetite for the printed word.’ . . . Luckily, her word addiction kept progressing until she had all the tools she needed to create this gloriously gutsy memory-work.”—Elle
“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
“Valiant and heartbreaking.”—Bust
“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
“Powerful . . . wicked funny . . . Ruta writes with unflinching honesty.”—Slate
“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