All That Is Bitter & Sweet

All That Is Bitter & Sweet

A Memoir

Book - 2011
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Ashley Judd is an award-winning film and stage actor known for both box-office hits and art-house gems. Yet in 2002, she found her true calling: as a humanitarian and advocate for those suffering in neglected parts of the world. Asked why she was opting out while she was one of the highest-paid women in Hollywood, she could not provide an answer. She simply knew that after her first trip to the notorious brothels, slums, and hospices of southeast Asia, her own life depended on advocating on behalf of the vulnerable. Along the way, Ashley realized that the coping strategies she had developed to deal with her own emotional pain were no longer working. Seeking in-patient treatment, she found an expanded kit of spiritual tools that energized and advanced her feminist social justice work. Now, she describes her odyssey, as a left-behind lost child attains international prominence as a fiercely dedicated advocate.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, ©2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780345523617
Branch Call Number: 791.43028092 J922a 2011
Characteristics: xviii, 406 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Vollers, Maryanne
Alternative Title: All that is bitter and sweet


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"Your opinion of me is none of my business."
Ashley Judd

melwyk May 01, 2012

I'm not usually a huge fan of the 'celebrity memoir'. I find them indulgent and usually pretty poorly written. But, this one came across my desk at work and I was intrigued. It is something more that a simple 'how I became famous' memoir.
It gives us a picture of her life: how she interacts with her family currently and has been able to mend relationships through hard work; her own marriage to racecar driver Dario Franchitti; the friends she's made through her advocacy; and the yearlong intensive degree she studied for at Harvard. It makes for a celebrity memoir that is full of solid content. She's a woman with many facets and this was an honest, heartbreaking book.

Jan 05, 2012

My favorite read for 2011! I highly recommend this book. Check out my full review on Goodreads:

rowanquincy Nov 26, 2011

I was expecting a standard actress autobiography, but this is much more centred on her philanthropic work. There is a lot to this lady, and I learned much from this book.

Oct 11, 2011

Having worked for Population Services International (PSI), I was very excited to read this book and hear Ashley Judd's accounts of her travels and her work with PSI. I have to say, though, I was a little underwhelmed by her story. I acknowledge that since this book is a memoir, it does require a certain level of self-centeredness on the part of the author. However, I felt there was a little too much focus on her opinions and feelings, and less attention to telling a good story.

In her accounts of her childhood, I felt that Ashley too often portrayed herself as the victim, constantly pointing out how she was mistreated and abused. While I don't discount the pain and suffering she went through growing up, this constant reminding only made me, as a reader, less sympathetic to her situation. She came across as whiny and repetitive.

Her descriptions of her humanitarian work also left me feeling annoyed. She portrayed the women, men, and children she met as victims, incapable of escaping their horrible plight, thereby stripping them of any sense of empowerment. I felt that her focus on this victimhood contradicted the work of the organization she claimed to represent. PSI, as an organization, is committed to empowering men and women to make healthy choices in their behavior, so I was saddened to read that Ashley Judd, as a board member of PSI, reflected the exact opposite of this philosophy.

This book is by no means a bad read. I found her writing to be eloquent and descriptive, and she shows a great appreciation for the people she meets through her work and her life. For someone like her to use her high-profile status to bring attention to humanitarian issues like HIV/AIDS and sex slavery is honorable, and I wish that more celebrities would take a cue from her and do the same. However, for a good story, I would suggest looking elsewhere.

Sep 26, 2011

Excellent. Well written, well portrayed autobiography.

LaughingOne Sep 23, 2011

Ashley Judd is my new heroine. This memoir is not only about her childhood and life as a sister and daughter to Wynonna and Naomi Judd, it is about her life and work as an advocate on behalf of the vulnerable people in the world, visiting people with HIV/AIDS, women/girls who were prostitutes and sex slaves because they were sold or bought or raped or had no other way to make any money for their children and families, AIDS orphans and other orphans. Through her work with Population Services International (PSI) Ashley traveled to Cambodia, Thailand, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Guatemala, India, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo (all written about in this book), and other places. She played with children, sat with very ill people, hugged them, held them, loved on them (is how she put it), and witnessed their lives. She told them “I will not forget you” and went on to talk about them at the United Nations General Assembly among other venues. She gave of her time and her personal money. She worked with the people she was with, doing what they were doing. She was present. She had privilege and recognition as a Hollywood figure and she used it to help better the lives of those who had much less than she; she used her influence to raise money, to get donations. The stories Ashley told in this book moved me to tears more often than not. They also gave me great hope. I truly admire what Ashley does, who she has become through her work on herself and with others in the world. She is an intensely spiritual person without being doctrinaire about it. She seems to live her beliefs as fully as anyone possibly can, with no regrets. She advocates for feminist social justice change. Read this book, learn more about Ashley Judd and her work. Read it! Change! Be the change you want to see.

Jul 04, 2011

One of the worst books I have ever read... I was flipping pages hoping to find something actually interesting..but so boring

Jun 15, 2011

This is not your run-of-the-mill Hollywood memoir. It's the chronicle of a childhood marked by chaos and neglect, an adulthood of gradual, painful healing, and through it all the emergence of a remarkable humanitarian. I picked this book up, thinking, I'll just give it a quick scan and pass it on. But I had to slow down and read more carefully, because I was riveted. As I read Ashley Judd's story, I found I was becoming ashamed of myself, because my loving, sheltered upbringing has not produced in me the quality of character that this woman possesses. Very few books make you feel humble, so I'm giving it 5 stars. This is an important book; don't disregard it just because of the picture on the cover.

Jun 11, 2011

boring and whiny, poor mama Judd

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