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71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brutal Memoir of Family, Drugs and Alcohol
Domenica (Nicki) Ruta has written a brutal memoir of life with her mother, Kathi. Kathi is a drug addict and sometimes dealer who likes to share her drugs with Nicki. They live in a dilapidated house filled with garbage in Danvers, a suburb of Boston. Kathi's life goes up and down mercurially from rags to riches and back again. Despite her lack of education, she is a...
Published on January 3, 2013 by Bonnie Brody

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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Catharsis
Domenica Ruta releases herself from the drug and alcohol induced embrace of her psychotic mother, finally, in her thirties in this cathartic memoir. Her story reads like a wildly swinging pendulum as she shares her chaotic childhood, living with her mother and stepfather surrounded by filth, drugs, and alcohol. In her lucid moments you feel Ruta's mother wants more for...
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71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Brutal Memoir of Family, Drugs and Alcohol, January 3, 2013
This review is from: With or Without You: A Memoir (Hardcover)
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Domenica (Nicki) Ruta has written a brutal memoir of life with her mother, Kathi. Kathi is a drug addict and sometimes dealer who likes to share her drugs with Nicki. They live in a dilapidated house filled with garbage in Danvers, a suburb of Boston. Kathi's life goes up and down mercurially from rags to riches and back again. Despite her lack of education, she is a good businesswoman who can make money easily. She also has her drug business to fall back on.

Despite her own lack of education, she has high goals for Nicki. She wants Nicki to succeed in school and goes all out to see that this happens. She sends Nicki to Parochial school and later to high school in a better district than Danvers. She takes Nicki to visit ten boarding schools on the east coast and Nicki wins a scholarship to Phillips Andover Academy. She later goes on to Oberlin.

Nicki and her mother are like oil and water though they are very enmeshed and Nicki feels like she needs her mother's approval and support. Kathi is either stoned most of the time or coming down. She uses oxycontin, heroin, cocaine and alcohol. Gradually, Nicki gets into drugs herself with alcohol being her drug of choice. For many years she is a hardcore drunk with hangovers every day, blackouts, and shakes in the morning. Despite this, she manages to study at the University of Texas Michener Writing Center on a full scholarship with stipend. She can't maintain relationships with men as her drinking creates scenarios where she cheats and lies.

This is a memoir of climbing out from the depths of despair and pain. It is an elegy to persistence, strength, repetition, and trying over and over again to get it right. There is a section on alcoholism that is one of the most beautiful and poignant that I've ever read. Domenica gets it right and her personal experiences are honestly and brutally revealed.

The book goes back and forth in time and some of the scenes seem awkward, as though they are not in the right place. A bit of editing should help that out. I read the book in two days and the second half riveted me. I congratulate the author for this very personal and poignant story of her life. Thank you Ms. Ruta for this book.
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34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful new voice, January 23, 2013
This review is from: With or Without You: A Memoir (Hardcover)
I've read many memoirs. Among the best - Russell Baker's "Growing Up"; Mary Karr's "The Liar's Club"; Jeannette Walls' "The Glass Castle" -- all with vivid descriptions of people and events that have remained in my memory over many years. Domenica Ruta's "With or Without You" now joins the ranks.

Reading the glowing endorsements from authors whom I respect, I thought they must be hyperbole. But Ruta is the real deal, someone who can tell a story so powerful that you are riveted to the spot, unable to believe such things could happen and moved in myriad ways. She lived a life that defies description with a mother so vivid that you feel her manifest herself from the pages. This is a memoir that is like no other.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Catharsis, February 27, 2013
Domenica Ruta releases herself from the drug and alcohol induced embrace of her psychotic mother, finally, in her thirties in this cathartic memoir. Her story reads like a wildly swinging pendulum as she shares her chaotic childhood, living with her mother and stepfather surrounded by filth, drugs, and alcohol. In her lucid moments you feel Ruta's mother wants more for her daughter, rooting her on to private education. In her worst moments, she invites Ruta to share her addiction and doesn't protect her from abuse.

Not to discount Ruta's struggles, but by the end of the book, it felt less impactful than it promised to be. It takes courage to bare ugly truths of your family and upbringing and I praise Ruta for revealing herself to the world.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My new favorite memoir, October 30, 2013
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I devour memoirs like it's my job. I love them, even the ones with good stories but bad writing. This one is up there with Jeanette Walls' Glass Castle. The characters are believable, yet they behave in ways that are far outside of standard social norms. If this story had been written by anyone else, it's possible that I might find myself thinking judgmental thoughts about the characters. A mother who allows her child to be molested? Horrible person, right? That's why I think Domenica is an excellent writer. She made me love Kathi from the very beginning, and this is why I read memoirs. So I can understand people better.

Besides all that, this book is funny. One of those stories that makes you stay up late, laughing out loud, and then you're sad when it's over.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Danvers friend very touched by your story, July 5, 2013
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Wow! I remember you and your cousin as little toddlers...never knew this was happening and I really feel for you. What a sad, heart felt book. Good job Nicki with your sobriety and keep up the good work. Your a great Author and would love to read more!!
Take care,
Leah Welch

5 stars!!!!!!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With or Without You: A Memoir, May 8, 2013
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This was a very unusual experience for me. I live on the same street as the author did when she was growing up and my sister was close childhood friends with her mother, who also lived in the same house when she was a child. It's funny to be able to see both sides of the coin on this one. The memoir was beautifully written and her descriptions of her life were heart wrenching to say the least. The thing is, her mother lived under the same conditions when she was a child. The grandmother, Rita, spoken of in the book was the person I knew. She was, to say the least, an unusual person and her kids suffered at her hands. The cycle of abuse is so clear-cut in this book. I highly recommend the book to all, especially to those who may be suffering from abuse in their childhood.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, but not for the faint of heart, June 25, 2013
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This review is from: With or Without You: A Memoir (Hardcover)
The writing is sharp, painful, insightful, sizzling--I could go on and on. Memoirs are not always "feel goods", and With or Without You proves the point. There is little positive to say about her dreadful childhood, but Domenica Ruta has managed to emerge relatively intact, despite little or no instruction in how to be a moral and capable adult. Her story is told in fragments, often out of sequence, with a sense of disconnectedness, but this mirrors how her life played out. The entire tone of the book perfectly reflected her story of chaos, disharmony, and disruption. I was particularly intrigued by the mix of love and loathing for her whackadoodle mom--the loyalties of a child are hard to explain, but she did an excellent job of conveying the push and pull of those feelings. I highly recommend this memoir for what it tells us about resilience and metamorphosis, but also because of the author's delicious use of the English language.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How To Make A life, May 10, 2013
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I was drawn to this book for two reasons. The first one is that I too came from an alcoholic family and the second is that it was set in a town I am familiar with.I liked the book, it would be helpful for anyone with an alcoholic family or someone who is alcoholic herself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking and beautiful just like real life is., May 10, 2013
Recently I reread my favorite memoir The Glass Castle by
Jeanette Walls and I was reminded all over again why I love it so much. I can happily say that this memoir has now joined the ranks of The Glass Castle for me.

It takes a really talented writer to write a harshly beautiful memoir like this. Her story is so sad yet so moving. I love the honesty in her writing. She lays it all out bare bones. It's brave what she does in this book and I love and respect her as an author for it.

I'm very happy I bought this as an E-book and now I'm highly considering purchasing it in paper form as well. I loved it that much. Bravo to Domenica Ruta! I'll be keeping an eye out for anything else she writes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With or Without You, May 6, 2013
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This review is from: With or Without You: A Memoir (Hardcover)
Damn; I don't know if I'm more impressed with Domenica's electric writing style or the fact that she survived her upbringing to actually write her story! Truly someone you'd love to sit down to tea with...!
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With or Without You: A Memoir
With or Without You: A Memoir by Domenica Ruta (Hardcover - February 26, 2013)
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