Book Review #25: 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

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, 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 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 the 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.

Upon reading the description of this story, I thought it was going to be a very emotional and powerful read, something to make me think about my own life and such. This book didn’t really achieve that.

Sure, it wasn’t bad. Not at all, However, I wish Ruta would have put more emotion into her writing, something more reflective so it can keep me hooked. This novel wasn’t perfect, but it was still an enjoyable read.  Stepping into someone else’s shoes for a while made me enjoy this story even more.

I also really loved the fact that Ruta touched upon her own addictions and how they affected her life.  I do recommend this read for anyone who enjoys memoirs or reading about addiction and how it affects the family etc.

Sorry, this was short and sweet, but there’s really not much else to say about this novel.

My Rating
My Rating
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