Friday, April 19, 2013

(31)With or Without You by Domenica Ruta

With or Without You

Publication Date:  February 26, 2013
Pages: 224

Domenica (Nikki) Ruta did not have a conventional childhood by any stretch of the imagination.  She grew up in a small community outside Boston where she lived with her mother in a house owned by her Grandmother, that sounds normal, right?  Well her mother, Kathi,  was somewhat of a notorious figure in Danvers, known for her ability to have a good time with lots and lots of drugs. From pot to oxy to heroin, Nikki knew from a tender age what drugs were and what people ON drugs were capable of doing to young girls.

Despite her tumultuous upbringing Nikki tried to maintain a normalcy - even when her mom paid for her parochial school with money she got selling drugs, Nikki didn't think she was much different then the other kids at school.  Then one night she had a friend over to stay the night and saw her home from new eyes.  The squalor that she was living in and the drugs and drug addicts that littered her home WAS different from the other kids in her class.  So they try to get her into a boarding school and after lots of applications, she is accepted to one of the most prestigious boarding schools on the East coast.  But was it in time to prevent Nikki from repeating the horrible cycle that began generations before she came along?  Will she be able to put her Mother behind her and go on to lead a happy, productive life?

I am not sure if you could tell from my brief synopsis, but With or Without You is a memoir. A horrifying real life tale of a young girl trapped in the drug addled world created by her drug addicted mother.  My jaw literally dropped at some of the stories Nilkki had to share about her mother, it almost seemed like she HAD to be fictional because no mother would be so bad as to give her young daughter OXYCONTIN for a headache, right?  I will say that the Nikki skipped around in the time line pretty frequently causing some confusion and frustrations to me, the reader.  I was pretty irritated by the sequence until the end of the book when she made some comment (not a direct quote) about how [when finally sober, memories return slowly and never in the right order]. It was a like a light bulb came on and I immediately forgave Nikki for her writing ADD.

Bottom line, With or Without You is a raw, gritty novel about a young girl struggling to survive a childhood that would have chewed up and spat out just about any other soul.  Nikki is obviously a strong woman who has a great gift for telling a story and I am glad that she did survive to tell us her cautionary tale. If you are in the need of feeling better about your own childhood, then you must read With or Without You. I promise you that you will feel better about your life.


Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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