March 2013 Indie Next List
“There is a category of memoir that I think of as 'childhood survival story' in which, because of parental failure or absence, the author's youth is so difficult that the reader is amazed that she or he made it to adulthood. Ruta's is such a story, but it's told with such matter of factness, understanding, and humor that one can't help but like her mother, all the while recognizing that the mother was more the child in the relationship. This is a compassionate and eloquent story of twisted love and recovery.”
— Lyn Roberts, Square Books, Oxford, MS
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
A haunting, unforgettable mother-daughter story for a new generation the debut of a blazing new lyrical voice
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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 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
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.
“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
“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
“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