With or Without You (Book) Review
Domenica Ruta had what you might call an…..unusual childhood.
Being a kid is tough. You are completely at the mercy of your parents. You slide haphazardly back and forth between thinking they are complete geniuses and total idiots. Most of all, you think the life of an adult is an amazing thing, where doing whatever you want, whenever you want to, is just as easy as it sounds. Of course, for the average child, a little angst and a lot of rolling your eyes into adulthood is about as bad as it gets. But then, Domenica Ruta was not the average child.
With or Without You is a memoir that walks readers through the life of a child who just didn’t fit with her family. In a story reminiscent of the family movie Matilda, Domenica was the smart kid in a house without books, determined to read and learn despite being encouraged to do just the opposite at every turn by her troubled single mother. Domenica’s mom Kathi is a singular character. Despite a lifelong and ever growing drug problem, Kathi is a near constant presence in her daughter’s life, encouraging her try drugs, get pregnant in high school, skip school, and pretty much everything else a parent is supposed to adamantly encourage you *not* to do.
Even more odd, Domenica’s life is a weird balancing act between welfare and riches, too much family and being shunned by family, and so much more. Rarely has there been a single person who has encountered so many of life’s experiences in such a small lifetime. Addiction and redemption, popularity and the school outcast, no money to buy groceries to millions to buy fancy cars to foreclosure, and so much more. Domenica seems to have seen every extreme that life has to offer, and while she may not have weathered every storm without a scratch, she has survived to offer a unique perspective to readers.
With or Without You is a well written account of growing up poor, managing a sick mother/daughter relationship, fighting through addiction, and learning to love the life you have, wherever it takes you. Through her completely unique perspective on life, Domenica Ruta gives readers insight into her life, and really draws them into her thoughts and feelings. Her life is such an odd mix, from the elite boarding school where she shared classes and rooms with old wealth families to the hoarder’s house filled with an ever changing cast of junkies, that one cannot help but be fascinated. Ruta does a wonderful job of giving readers insight into the love/hate relationships she struggles with, from her family, to her mother, to herself. Hers is struggles well worth reading.