Friday, March 1, 2013

With or Without You by Domenica Ruta

When people say that reading lets you live a thousand lives, I'm pretty sure they're talking about memoirs as well. After all, Domenica Ruta's life is as unlike mine as could be possible, but after reading her memoir, I feel like I've (in some small way), experienced what she felt.

Ms Domenica grew up with Kathi, her insane, drug-addicted mother. Domenica isn't pretty either (so this isn't one of those Cinderella books either), but she does love to read. In her own words, she has a hunger for knowledge and

"Hunger like this is pitiful. It never affords you the luxury of distinguishing between useless and important knowledge, between good and bad words. And, like movies, bad words were another resource in which my family was truly rich."

And no, the love of reading and writing doesn't save her. Instead, she manages to acquire several addictions while pursuing her study.

So far, the book sounds bleak. But the way With or Without You is written is somehow matter-of-factly, as though this was normal and no sympathy is required. And in a weird way, this is true - her extended family is as dysfunctional as her, and what happens must have seemed normal.

The book ends (I can say this because the blurb mentions it), with Ms Domenica "living the life she grew up with". In other words, she gets sober. It's no miracle, it's a long, painful process, and I admire her all the more for it.

If you like memoirs, you have to read it.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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