There is something very special about an audio book when it is read by the author. Somehow, for this listener the author’s voice lends an understanding that an actor no matter how well trained does not provide. And, when the book is a memoir read by the author there seems to be an even greater connection - one of intimacy, confiding. That is certainly true in this searing yet redemptive memoir by Domenica Ruta.
With Or Without You is the candid remembering of a physical and emotionally abusive youth. Hearing of her early years most would deem Ruta lost, hopeless, a tragic victim of an addicted mother and her own dependence on drugs. Yet that is not the case as she amazingly works her way from a dark place to good health. Throughout we are reminded of the unbreakable bond between mother and child.
Ruta’s mom (Kathi) is so far from June Cleaver that it is ridiculous. She’s a petite (five foot) bleached blond with an ample bosom and a longshoreman’s vocabulary. (Apologies here to longshoremen). Initially Kathi worked lowless jobs, earning enough for pain killers which she generously shared with Ruta. Then Kathi was able to splurge on heroin after taking over her second husband’s business. Following an almost parallel path Ruta soon was fueled by alcohol and drugs.
As a young girl she endured much including a mother who used every trick she knew to propel Ruta in the direction she wanted her to go and sexual abuse by one of Kathi’s friends. Yet something within Ruta wanted to escape from this life and she battled to overcome her devils. She recounts that period with honesty and bits of black humor.
In the end this is a true story of recovery, redemption and despite all odds love.
- Gail Cooke