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Friday, February 22, 2013

With or Without You: A Memoir

With or Without You by Domenica Ruta came across my email I was highly intrigued. Memoirs float my boat, so I picked it up.

Domenica "Nikki" Ruta grew up in the outskirts of Boston unaware how odd her upbringing was. Her single mother was an addict and a dealer, her father was out of control abusive with a jealous wife, and her grandmother was the only stable force she could find. Family history was touch and go because no one really told the truth, like ever, and family secrets were kept at all costs--even when they hurt their own. As Domenica matures and begins to find the world outside her own, she realizes the painful truth of what her life has become by her own hands. 

Ruta has shared her life story honestly and painstakingly. She makes it easy for her reader to hurt with her. Ruta's reality is far different than mine will ever be: she struggles with sexual abuse by an uncle whom everyone knew was capable of such acts and instead chose to ignore them; her mother is not just an addict and a sponge of the system but also appears to be bipolar; and Ruta herself struggles for years with alcoholism that began as a way to dull the pain of her everyday existence. She writes her story with such clarity and open-mindedness that I felt able to safely enter her world.

I enjoyed the time I spent with this memoir, although it feels wrong to use the word "enjoy" when speaking of someone else's hardship. I am thankful for Ruta sharing her words and opening up her heart to me as her reader. At times her humor (sarcastic an knowing and poking at the absurdity she recognizes exists in her story) made me guffaw out loud. At other times her raw assessment of her choices made my chest hurt. It was an experience that I will continue recommending again and again.

For you! Kindle version on the left, hard copy on the right.

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