From the opening pages of Domenica Ruta
's memoir about her chaotic childhood with her flamboyant, contradictory mother, her own eventual descent into addiction, and her painful journey back to health, we knew we had to get this book into as many hands as possible. With or Without You
may delve into a good deal of anguish, but it is a joy to read.
Ruta looks back on her tumultuous life through shrewd eyes, fiercely unsentimental and unflinchingly honest. Yet throughout, her voice remains wryly playful:
I didn't have many friends growing up; then I hit puberty and things got even worse. Here begins my angry phase, the self-centered, quietly homicidal years, that special hiccup of time between my first bra and my first joint.
Ruta's real triumph, however, is in portraying her raucous, exasperating family members as sympathetic, if flawed, human beings. This takes imagination, unwavering self-examination, and determined honesty. But more importantly, it takes genuine heart, which is what ultimately elevates With or Without You. As Kathryn Harrison observes, "Difficult childhoods are plentiful, the talent to transform adversity into art in short supply." That talent is evident on every page.
We've also included a quartet of handmade artisan chocolates from our friends at Portland-based Marushka Chocolates: one Black Currant caramel, one Salt and Pepper caramel, one Cognac caramel with Vanilla Fleur de Sel, and one Beer caramel. These chocolates are not only surprising and delicious but also ethically sourced and packaged with an eye toward sustainability.
And if gourmet chocolates inspire, the enclosed Sea Decomposition Book may come in handy. With its DIY aesthetic and meticulously eco-friendly construction, it might just be the perfect place to begin recording your own life's story.