All That Is Bitter and Sweet

( 348 )

Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
In 2002, award-winning film and stage actor Ashley Judd found her true calling: as a humanitarian and voice for those suffering in neglected parts of the world. After her first trip to the notorious brothels, slums, and hospices of southeast Asia, Ashley knew immediately that she wanted to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable. During her travels, Ashley started to write diaries that detailed extraordinary ...

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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
In 2002, award-winning film and stage actor Ashley Judd found her true calling: as a humanitarian and voice for those suffering in neglected parts of the world. After her first trip to the notorious brothels, slums, and hospices of southeast Asia, Ashley knew immediately that she wanted to advocate on behalf of the vulnerable. During her travels, Ashley started to write diaries that detailed extraordinary stories of survival and resilience. But along the way, she realized that she was struggling with her own emotional pain, stemming from childhood abandonment and abuse. Seeking in-patient treatment in 2006 for the grief that had nearly killed her, Ashley found not only her own recovery and an enriched faith but the spiritual tools that energized and advanced her feminist social justice work. In this deeply moving and unforgettable memoir, Ashley Judd describes her odyssey, from lost child to fiercely dedicated advocate, from anger and isolation to forgiveness and activism. In telling it, she answers the ineffable question about the relationship between healing oneself and service to others.

Foreword by Nicholas D. Kristof

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Ashley Judd is an award-winning actress, the daughter of country music singer Naomi Judd, and the half sister of country singing legend Wynonna Judd, but this memoir is no cookie cutter celebrity autobiography. Born out of her first trip to Southeast Asia's most heart-wrenching slums, All That is Bitter & Sweet recounts Judd's struggles to place her new call as a humanitarian within the context of her own busy, troubled life. By rethinking the causes of her own emotional pain, she learns to empathize and cope with crises in the world around her. Straight from the heart; bound to receive the media attention it deserves. Now in trade paperback and NOOK Book. (P.S. The trade paperback edition carries a new afterword by the author.)

Edward Ash-Milby

From the Publisher

“An important and moving memoir . . . Every reader will be inspired.”—Bill Clinton

“Powerful . . .  a tour de force.”—Washington Examiner
 
“Enlightening and inspiring . . . Ashley Judd has composed a memoir that teaches while it entrances, and finds hope and faith in the most unlikely places. The book is full of real-life stories that reflect both the compassion of its author and the need for healing in the world.”—Madeleine K. Albright
 
“Frank and heartfelt . . . [Ashley] Judd’s resolve and dedication to her work is humbling and inspiring, and her memoir is fantastic.”—Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
 
“A fascinating story.”—The Washington Post
 
“[An] absorbing memoir of challenge, courage, and renewal.”—Library Journal

Charlotte Hays
Judd keeps her acting career offstage. You won't learn much about how she got from her native Kentucky to Hollywood stardom. This book is about recovery from depression born of growing up in a wildly dysfunctional family and building on that recovery to become a global activist. Yet All That Is Bitter and Sweet is not nearly as saccharine as this description makes it sound. Despite the heavy dose of jargon and cliche…the actress tells a fascinating story about her truly awful childhood.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
It's widely known that Ashley Judd is a popular actress, with a roster of both large and small films on her CV, and hails from the same family that produced a country music sensation, but Judd is also a dedicated philanthropist and a global ambassador for Population Services International (PSI). In this frank and heartfelt memoir, Judd reveals the tumultuous and abusive childhood that led her to wrestle with anger and abandonment. She worked through these issues in therapy in order to recommit to both her acting and her role as an advocate for sex workers and public health issues. Skeptics, who think of Judd as another actress out of her depth, should be quieted by Judd's completion of a masters degree at Harvard University in 2010, better equipping her to carry on her mission of social justice. In his foreword, Kristof calls Judd a serious advocate following "a calling." On paper she is sensitive, thoughtful, devoid of narcissism or unnecessary drama, and shows superb judgment in collaborating with Vollers, whose 2007 book Lone Wolf, about abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph, was excellent. Judd's resolve and dedication to her work is humbling and inspiring, and her memoir is fantastic. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Actress Judd is also a committed activist who received a master's in public administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government (pretty cool). Here, she draws on journals she kept while attending to human rights issues worldwide, using what she experienced to help rethink her own life. Should get some attention.
Kirkus Reviews

With the assistance of co-author Vollers (Lone Wolf: Eric Rudolph: Murder, Myth, and the Pursuit of an American Outlaw, 2006, etc.), actress Judd delivers a keenly felt memoir of a dysfunctional upbringing twined with an adult life of progressive social advocacy.

Some wag once said that the Judd family put the "fun" in dysfunctional, but Ashley remembers the turbulence rather differently, as "a family full of hatred, fighting, accusation, manipulation, abandonment, and emotional and physical abuse," with everything "from depression, suicide, alcoholism, and compulsive gambling to incest and suspected murder. Judd examines her difficult history, braiding it with her current days as a committed activist for human rights. Though she calls readers' attention to her movie-star status as she rubs humanitarian-circuit shoulders with Bono, Juanes ("the Colombian rock superstar") and Bollywood's Akshay Kumar ("the Indian equivalent of Will Smith or Bruce Willis, but with a fan base of a billion people"), she also comes across as a piercingly effective global ambassador for Population Services International, tackling issues of reproductive health and child survival. At first, she was undone by her visits to third-world brothels, but she eventually realized that her own sexual abuse was causing the over-identification, subverting her agenda. "I understand the urge to rescue everybody," says her PSI boss, "but that's not how it works. PSI is not a rescue organization. We are a public health organization." The author writes with a sure hand of the many difficult themes she addresses: her journey of emotional recovery (a fine chapter on her rehab for codependency and depression), her spiritual quest, finding the humanity in the sexual perpetrators and making tangible her toils for social justice. Judd is also a solid painter of place, from the most squalid sex factory to the rural sweetness of her Tennessee home.

A passionate reminder of the breathtaking misery of so many lives, and one woman's work in their service.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345523624
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/21/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 369,934
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ashley Judd
Ashley Judd received her masters degree in public administration at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. At Harvard Law, she was awarded the Dean’s Scholar Award for her paper on gender violence. She continues to combine her acting career with human rights and public health work around the world, serving on various boards of directors and leadership advisory councils. She and her husband, race-car driver Dario Franchitti, live in Tennessee and Scotland with their many beloved animals.

Maryanne Vollers is the author of Ghosts of Mississippi, a finalist for the National Book Award. She has also collaborated on two memoirs: Living History, with Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Ice Bound, with Jerri Nielsen, both #1 New York Times bestsellers.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

FAMILY OF CHANCE, FAMILY OF CHOICE

Say not, "I have found the truth," but rather,"I have found a truth."
-KAHLIL GIBRAN

My favorite author, Edith Wharton, wrote in herautobiography, "My last page is always latent in my first, but theintervening windings of the way become clear only as I write." So it hasbeen with me as I have undertaken to make sense of my own past.

Although the home of my heart is in the AppalachianMountains, I always considered it auspicious that I was born in Southern California,one of the most transitory places in the world, during one of the mostturbulent springs in American history. When I arrived by cesarean section atGranada Hills Hospital on April 19, 1968, California was the epicenter of asociety in the throes of a cultural and spiritual upheaval. The Vietnam War wasraging. The nation was still reeling from the assassination of Martin LutherKing Jr., and Bobby Kennedy would soon be gunned down at the Ambassador Hotelin Los Angeles, leaving a generation of idealists lost in a tide of grief andregret. Some of the flower children who had flocked to San Francisco for theSummer of Love were now panhandling for loose change along Hollywood's Sunset Strip-aplace I would soon know well.

My parents, Michael and Diana Ciminella, were small-town kids from rural eastern Kentucky. Like mosteveryone else in the Los Angeles basin, they had moved to California lookingfor a fresh start in what Joan Didion described as "the golden land whereevery day the world is born anew." In 1967, my parents bought a tracthouse on a cul-de-sac in Sylmar, a suburb carved out of olive groves in the SanFernando Valley, about twenty miles north and a world away from Hollywood. Mydad sold electronic components for the aerospace industry; my mom stayed homeand seethed with boredom. They had dreams, just different ones. And they hadsecrets.

They had married too young and for the "wrong" reason-namely,the unplanned pregnancy that produced my older sister, Christina (you know heras Wynonna), when Mom was only seventeen. It was a typical story of the time:high school girl becomes pregnant and "has" to marry her teenageboyfriend. But there was a twist: Michael wasn't the father of Diana's baby-somethinghe didn't know at the time of the wedding, and something my sister and I wouldn'tlearn for decades. When I came into the world four years later, my family'stroubled and remarkable course had already been set in motion, powerfullyshaped by my mother's desperate teenage lie and the incredible energy she dedicatedto protecting it.

I began to understand the dynamics of my past, and how weare only as sick as our secrets, when I was thirty-seven years old and startedon a simple and practical path of personal recovery. It was then that Idiscovered we all belong to two families: our family of choice and our familyof origin. My family of choice is a colorful assortment of surrogate grandparents,aunts, uncles, and friends who infuse me with love, belonging, and acceptance.My family of origin, the one into which I was born, was also brimming with lovebut was not a healthy family system. There was too much trauma, abandonment,addiction, and shame. My mother, while she was transforming herself into thecountry legend Naomi Judd, created an origin myth for the Judds that did notmatch my reality. She and my sister have been quoted as saying that our familyput the "fun" in dysfunction. I wondered: Who, exactly, was havingall the fun? What was I missing?

As I write these words, I am happy to say that each of ushas embarked on a personal process of healing, and my family is healthier thanit has ever been. We have come far. In our individual and collectiverecoveries, we have learned that mental illness and addiction are familydiseases, spanning and affecting generations. There are robust strains of eachon both sides of my family-manifested in just about everything from depression,suicide, alcoholism, and compulsive gambling to incest and suspected murder-andthese conditions have shaped my parents' stories (even if some of the eventsdid not happen directly to them) as well as my sister's and my own.Fortunately, along with the dysfunction is a legacy of love, resiliency,creativity, and faith in a family whose roots I can trace back at least eightgenerations in the mountains of Kentucky and about 350 years in America, and asfar as the shores of Sicily. That history is as much a part of my DNA as thearch of my eyebrows or the color of my hair. It's imprinted in the soft r's andlong vowels that well up in my voice when I'm speaking about my home place orthe way I whoop for my dogs from the doorway, barefoot, in a nightgown,assuming my mountain woman stance with a hand on one hip, a way of being asnatural to me as breathing.

Although I now make my home in rural middle Tennessee,eastern Kentucky still calls to me. Kentuckians have a deeply ingrained, almostmystical sense of place-a sense of belonging that defines us. As a teenager, Itook a friend to see my great-aunt Pauline's farm. She passed away when I wasin the fourth grade. Nevertheless, although I had not been there since I wasten years old, I navigated my car deep into the countryside, to her homesteadon Little Cat Creek, without making a single wrong turn. More recently, afterflying over catastrophic mountaintop removal coal-mining sites in Pike County,I drove to Black Log Hollow in Martin County, where my paternal grandmother wasraised. When I pulled onto Black Log, something ineffable-without words anddeeper than memory, from a place so primal that it transcends thought andconscious action-tugged at my soul. I went unhesitatingly to the first mailboxon the right. The stenciled name read "Dalton," which was my paternalgrandmother's maiden name; I had found my great-grandparents' home and realizedthat folks to whom I am kin lived there yet. I called on the residents, andlike a cliché, the old woman inside accused me of being the law or a taxcollector. The only thing missing was a rifle across her lap.

These mountains can hold dark secrets. Mary BernadineDalton, who became my Mamaw Ciminella, never talked to me much about her familyor her years growing up. Her mother, Effie, was married at least five times.The husband who fathered Mamaw and her two sisters disappeared from the scene-shenever said why, at least to me, although Papaw Ciminella, who loved familydearly and was a devoted reminiscer, told me that my great-granddaddy had hitEffie and she'd ended that marriage on the spot. Mostly, what I knew was thatMamaw was a gorgeous mountain girl with a luscious figure who, like the KimNovak character in Picnic, fell for a charming, exotic outsider who lovedadventure.

Michael Lawrence Ciminella (Papaw) was the son ofSicilian immigrants who had settled in western New York, on the shores of LakeErie. His mother was a classic homemaker in the Italian tradition, his fatherhad a good job making wine for Welch's, and they were surrounded by a vibrantextended family. They raised five children together, including Papaw. But,according to my cousins, there was a dark side to this quintessential Americanstory. A family member had raped Papaw's mother, and his oldest brother wasconceived in incest. I can only imagine the suffering that created in Papaw'sfamily as he grew up, and it may explain why he developed ulcers that kept himout of military service during World War II. As a young man, Papaw, after hisexciting tenure in the Civilian Conservation Corps in the western states, whichallowed him to discover his love of rambling, installed copper roofing andgutters up and down the Appalachian Mountains. It was on one of these tripsthat he met the beautiful Billie Dalton at a clandestine juke joint in Inez,Kentucky. He swept her away from the local hero she was dating and married herin 1944, after a six-week courtship. They moved to Erie, Pennsylvania, where hefound a good job with General Electric building locomotives during the war. Myfather, Michael Charles Ciminella, who came along, was their only child.

After the war, Papaw and Mamaw briefly owned a diner inErie until Papaw, who used to play some serious poker, lost the business to oneof the local "hard guys" in a card game. His gambling days over (fora while, at least), Papaw moved his young family back to eastern Kentucky,where he worked as a brakeman for the C&O Railroad. He was a wizard withall kinds of metalwork, and he eventually turned a part-time business buildingand installing gutters and siding into the successful Ashland Aluminum ProductsCompany.

Dad idolized his father, whom he remembers as outgoing,immensely competitive, hardworking, and honest. Papaw never lied or cheated tomake a sale, and he expected people to pay him when and what they owed him.Mamaw, in her early years, was as outgoing as Papaw. They were a beautiful andstylish couple, accomplished dancers who enjoyed socializing and golfing at thecountry club. But Dad's memory is that Mamaw grew more eccentric as she gotolder. She liked her house to be perfectly clean, neat, and orderly. She alsotended to fret, particularly about the health of her only child.

Dad had come down with a bad case of rheumatic fever as ayoung boy. It took him years to recuperate, and the family moved to Floridaduring the winters to help him heal. Mamaw must have been terrified of losinghim, because she nearly smothered him trying to keep him safe. He chafed at hervigilance, and when it came time for high school, he asked to go to Fork UnionMilitary Academy in Virginia to slip out from under her watchful eye. Dadthrived there, academically and athletically. The once sickly kid had turnedinto an outstanding baseball player, whose achievements were chronicled in thelocal paper and who briefly considered going pro. When he was sixteen, hisparents bought him a Corvair Monza so that he could drive himself back andforth to Ashland.

As soon as he received the car, Wendell Lyon, his bestfriend back home, enlisted him to drive him and his girlfriend, Linda McDonald,who would eventually become my godmother, to the movie theater over inHuntington, West Virginia. To seal the deal, Linda arranged a blind date forMichael with her pretty, fourteen-year-old across-the-street neighbor andfriend, Diana Judd.

Michael and Diana dated on and off for the next threeyears, and she has said that he first proposed marriage when she was onlyfifteen. She also claims she never loved him, but she enjoyed being taken ondates to the country club, and she was impressed by the comfortable lifestyleof the Ciminella family, which seemed luxurious compared with her family'shumbler circumstances.

Charles Glen Judd, my maternal papaw, came from a familythat didn't have much money, but they had laughter, stability, and love. He wasborn on Shirt Tail Fork of Little Blainecreek, alongside a farm that had beenin the family for generations. Papaw Judd and his folks moved to Ashlandbecause the job options in Lawrence County were coal mines or nothing. When hewas a senior in high school, he fell for a fourteen-year-old strawberry blondecashier named Pauline "Polly" Oliver.

Polly, my maternal grandmother, whom we call"Nana," came from a strange and troubled background. Her paternalgrandfather, David Oliver, had turned on the gas oven and then hanged himselfin front of his sons, aged only six and four, apparently because he wasdistraught that my great-great grandmother had left him. Howard, Nana's father,managed to save himself and his younger brother by breaking out a window.Howard, in turn, married a flophouse alcoholic party girl named Edie MaeBurton, who repeatedly cheated on him. When Nana was nine years old, her dadwas found in the bathroom with a bullet in his head; it looked like suicide,but everyone suspected Edie and her boyfriend. Edie took off soon after thefuneral, dumping Nana and her two younger siblings with her rigid, intimidatinggrandmother, Cora Lee Burton. Nana raised herself and her brother and sisteramong a collection of maladjusted grown aunts and uncles who were still livingat home, and she went to work at her grandmommy Cora Lee's restaurant, thelocally loved Hamburger Inn.

She was just fifteen when she married Glen Judd, and itmust have seemed like a good deal. Glen bought his own treasure of a gasstation and called it Judd's Friendly Ashland Service. When he and Nana startedhaving children, they bought his parents' big wood frame house at 2237Montgomery Avenue. Diana was the firstborn, followed two years later by Brian,then Mark, then Margaret.

My mother has always described her early childhood asidealized, happy, and secure, like a Norman Rockwell fantasy, with a stay-at-homemother who cooked wonderfully and a father she adored, who was hardworking andpopular in the community. For Nana, though, the marriage was no picnic. PapawJudd was a decent man who made a good living at the filling station, but he wasas tight with money as two coats of paint. Nana never had new clothes and didn'thave a washer and dryer until the youngest of their four children was out ofdiapers. When the furnace quit, Papaw Judd told Nana to fetch plastic from thedry cleaner's to insulate the windows. It was the only time Mom remembered hermother standing up to him about household finances. Papaw also worked longhours, often staying late to drink whiskey.

My mother describes herself as wildly imaginative and aperfectionist as a child, the kind of kid who always had her hand in the air atschool, earned good grades, and kept her room immaculate. She had neighborhoodfriends to play with in the humid summer evenings and siblings she loved,especially her gentle and funny younger brother Brian. Like all children, Mommust have absorbed the tension in the household, but she says the only thingshe missed as a child was the attention of her elusive father. While sheyearned for his affection, she learned to be noticed in other ways. Mom was aborn extrovert who used her babysitting money to take tap-dancing lessons. Andfolks around Ashland all say how popular and beautiful she was.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Nicholas D. Kristof xi

Prologue xv

Chapter 1 Family of Chance, Family of Choice 3

Chapter 2 The Safest Place in the World 19

Chapter 3 Buttermilk and Morning Glories 33

Chapter 4 Through the Trapdoor 41

Chapter 5 Making of a Rabble-Rouser 51

Chapter 6 Ouk Srey Leak 69

Chapter 7 Avenging Angel of the Sisterhood 89

Chapter 8 Dark Night of the Soul 102

Chapter 9 Eurydice in Africa 113

Chapter 10 The Rice Tents 133

Chapter 11 Praying With My Presence 150

Chapter 12 Bumping into Myself 161

Chapter 13 Deliverance 179

Chapter 14 Shades of Hope 206

Chapter 15 The Lost Child Found 224

Chapter 16 Project Life 257

Chapter 17 Off the Mat, into the World 277

Chapter 18 Adventures in Bollywood 297

Chapter 19 A Holy Mess 308

Chapter 20 The White Flower of Rwanda 326

Chapter 21 The Republic of Rape 342

Chapter 22 The Click 361

Chapter 23 Crimson Dreams 370

Epilogue 384

Acknowledgments 389

Notes 395

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 348 )
Rating Distribution

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(101)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 348 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2011

    Sadly would not recommend

    I was really expecting a deep insightful book, but found that only a third of the book touched on her life and in a very one dimensional way. Yes, she opens up about the some of the darker experiences in her life, but doesn't delve deep into those emotions at all. She passes over her molestation in a matter of fact way. I get she may have placed it in the right place in her life now, but why write about it then. Not to share who molested her is sending a horrible message to the secrecy of incest. She continues to protect the offender. The rest of the book she should have been written apart from what she labeled this book, as her "memoirs." In writing of her life experience, she's selective of what she shares, does not delve into her relationship with her mother or sister in a deep level. And her experiences in third world countries, was muddied on her repetitive, "how it made her feel, how mentally exhausting it was, how she wanted to help them all" awareness. There is a bigger picture here, which I don't think she covers. How her life is drawn to this area and maybe not in a healthy way. She doesn't delve in to the self-awareness aspect of this. In a particular part of the book she offended me deeply. Where she judges a lady she comes upon in a hotel on her way to a safari. Because the women is dressed in expensive clothes, Ashley makes a judgement she must be shallow because the lady asked if she was going on a safari too. How pompous is that responding to her like you did? How do you know THAT women you judged doesn't have a similar cause? What makes you think her journey in life hasn't been difficult? What because how she was dressed! Shallow. Maybe folks think the same way about you. Going to the slums, but retreating to your four star hotel afterwards. You talk about returning home and feeling guilty, wrong message again and shows perhaps motives are not in a good healthy place. Delve deeper Ashley. To readers, I'd save the money. This book p*^sed me off. She definitely has not completed her journey nor reached a level of self-actualization.

    39 out of 52 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2011

    Highly Recommend!

    I was immediately drawn to buy Ashley's book when it first became available. Growing up listening to The Judd's music, and seeing Naomi and Wynona on talk shows lately (sans Ashley) to promote their new OWN show, I was intrigued to read Ashley's story. Ashley begins her journey reflecting on her own childhood issues of abandonment, rejection, depression, isolation, loss of family connection, and sexual abuse. While she talks about these issues very openly, Ashley is not screaming "I am a victim" or "Naomi is a horrible mother". Rather, she reveals very openly how those issues affected her and what she did to move past it.
    Ashley shares the high and low points of her work as Ambassador and shares her inner struggles with religion and God. She is very raw in this book and is as transparent as she can be, without losing focus of the work she continues to do for PSI. Her journey takes her to a place of peace, acceptance, and a stronger will to continue helping those less fortunate to have a voice.

    Ashley's book cannot be read without wanting to do something and help others. At the end of the book, Ashley provides websites and information to many organizations and programs that always need funding and volunteers (at any level). This is a book that deserves to be read, if not for Ashley's own journey, but for the women and children whose voices deserve to be heard.

    17 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2011

    Inspiring read

    I knew I did not like Naomi or Wynnona Judd but I didn't know why; until this little book. Understanding the dynamics of this 'lost child' and then reading the accomplishments of this amazing woman is truely inspirational. Glad to spend the time reading this heart wrenching story of self and selflessness.

    13 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2011

    This Is Not Your Ordinary "Celebrity" Memoir

    This book is a reflection of the peace that Ashley Judd has found in working through the pain of her childhood. You will not be able to put this book down. For anyone facing the hurt, guilt and anger of a similar battle, I recommend that you buy "When God Stopped Keeping Score." It is an amazing book with a power message for everyone.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2011

    Big Disappointment!

    I was under the impression that this was a memoir. I thought I would get a look into who Ashley is and the relationship she has with her mother and sister. Instead she turned the book into a lecture regarding her visits to third world countries, where she promotes HIV/AIDS awareness. I did not buy the book to be lectured regarding this topic. If she wanted to educate us, she should have wrote a separate book to cover this. I feel to call this a memoir is a false advertisement. Definitely would not recommend!

    8 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 2, 2011

    Save your money.

    I found this book to be totally self-indulgent on the author's part. There were less than 100 pages about her life growing up and her relationships with her family, and another 300 of very-repetitive descriptions of her trips to third world countries. It is not possible for most of us relate to her experiences on these trips. I was very bored before page 100, and finally found myself flipping past the pages just to search for something of interest. I am very sad for wasting my money on this book.

    7 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2011

    A definite must read.

    I found this book to be very well written, insightful and enlightening. The premise of the book is how Ms. Judd endured and overcame a neglected and harmful childhood, in order to grow as a person and serve a larger community. Perhaps she does not get into the gritty details of her personal tragedies but that isn't the point of the book. The point is to illustrate that her personal tragedies are nothing in comparison to what she has witnessed around the world. For me, her faith in God, in herself and in those that have been chosen to support her are an example of how anyone can take a personal hardship and turn it into an act of love and service. She brought to light many issues within the world, and our own country, that though acknowledged, are essentially ignored. If you are looking for gossipy details of her life with The Judd's, you will be disappointed. If you are, however, looking for a woman whose strength of character allowed her to face her own demons and the demons of this world, read this book.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Very good

    Not exactly what I had expected, but in a good way. While I had an idea of what the book was about in regard to her family, I did not have a sense of her work in other countries or what really happened. It really brought home the truth that we each have our personal journey, and that we each experience it different ways.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    great human being!

    Ashley's dedicatin to human rights inspires me to be a better person. If all of us had an once of her kindness, this would be a better world.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2011

    Drags on and on and on...

    I purchased this book hoping to learn more about someone i admired and found myself disliking her more and more as i read! I'm not exactly sure why though. I know i felt like her depiction of her life was 'whoa is me' as though she had suffered in a way that nobody else can understand. I applaud her work with exploited women and young girls but found it hard to think that i could have seen all that and come home with any money left in my bank account, let alone left some of thoses scenes without changing it right then and there knowing i had the financial resources. I realize that is only a band aid but , it would have been 'one less'. I found myself skipping whole paragraphs, then pages just to get through it. Maybe just poorly written??

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2011

    Well done!

    I thought the book was articulate and well written. Even though a memoir, it kept my attention to the end. The book helped to increase my awareness of the conditions in which many women are living throughout the world. It reminded me of Mother Theresa's call to "the poorest of the poor."

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Amazing!!!!!

    After starting her book and reading it i began to realize the impact such a book can have. Not every book has to be about someones horrible childhood. But, what someone like ashley can make out of one. Through this and some other things i have realized that life is what you make out of it. This was a true inspiration to me. And a life changing experience. From the beginning it enlightened me to take the pain and trauma in my life and do something huge with it. Not just let them win but find my reason for my purpose!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2011

    not a memoir

    this book is Mostly about trips and attempts to eradicate hiv/aids. A worthy cause but not an attempt at a biography. Wynona's is much better.

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2011

    Give it a Chance!

    I'm not sure that it's fair to criticize this book for not being an autobiography that describes her life with her family from birth to present. It is correctly listed as a memoir, which by definition tend to focus on public (as opposed to personal) matters and do not follow the typical birth to present timeline of an autobiography. It is apparent in her writing that she is intelligent, compassionate, and insightful. She is also human, and therefore susceptible to some self-righteousness, grandiosity, and judgment of others during her journey. This, however, should not take away from the purpose of her journey or the purpose of the book (which is to show how her personal experiences drove her interest in philanthropy while also helping her to recover). We can all criticize celebrities for being somewhat hypocritical for publicizing causes while continuing to live richly; however, to some extent, we all do this, since we all devote time and money to ourselves that could be devoted to others. I think it's sad that so many were disappointed that this was not a juicy tell-all. I enjoy those as much as the next person, but why would we criticize someone who is more intelligent, eloquent, and socially responsible than the average celebrity memoirist? Give her a break. She is doing more to help the world than most of the rest of us.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Sadly not for me

    I looked forward to reading this book and can say I found it repetitive and shallow. Ashley Judd is one of my favorite actresses and I hoped to find some insight into her life with depression, dysfunctional upbringing and living with motor racing husband - Dario Franchitti. This did not seem to be the case. She glosses over the sexual abuse she suffered and protects the perpetrator, all while trying to "change the world" on issues such as this and prostitution. Sadly her humanitarian work appears to be cuddling poverty stricken people while realizing the problem is too big to solve, so she repeatedly hands it back to God. As an atheist reading this book, this hardly seems like any solution at all. On a positive note she seems to have scored herself quite the supportive, humorous husband in Dario.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2011

    Excellent!

    I would highly recommend this book. Ms Juddd writes with intelligence, wit and above all courage. Her poignant prose about her global humanitarian work as well her personal struggles will help a lot of people.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2011

    Very pleasantly surprised!!

    I bought this book on my Nook - honestly - because I wanted the dirt on the Judds. What I got was much more than I bargained for, but in a good way! I learned so much about Ashley, her very lonely childhood, and the good she does in the world. The causes she fights for - specifically sex trafficing of young girls - is a cause dear to my heart. The atrocities she describes are heart-wrenching. The writing and the details stayed with me for a long time. And to top it off, I felt the book was extremely well written. I highly recommend the book.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2011

    A quick read

    I too bought the book thinking I would not hear much about the mother and daughter singing duo, but of the life of the neglected and lost child, Ashley. What I did read of mother, Naomi, made me realize why I've never felt her to be an honest, warm person. She was and probably is still selfish and very self-centered and her new attempt to try to look more like Ashley is a complete failure. Her face is a mask and may have been that way all of her years.
    Ashley on the other hand is educated, wise, caring and warm. Her book is an easy read, especially if you like women.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2011

    Mixed Feelings for Me

    As my title indicates, I had very mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand I commend Ashley Judd for her willingness to use her famous name to draw attention to the millions of abused, neglected, and forgotten women in this world who are victims of sexual abuse, slavery, and violence. Most especially, I am impressed by her involvement in trying to improve their conditions, one group of women at a time. That alone makes this book an excellent read. On the other hand, like her famous mother and sister, she is all too willing to share her family drama, and it is clear there is a tremendous amount of bitterness still existing in that family--a testament to the belief that while analysis and treatment programs do help people come to terms with their painful past, resolving those long lingering issues is a whole lot harder. I was particularly taken aback by a comment she makes in the book when she is in Africa and meets a woman from Texas who innocently asks her if she is there "on safari." Judd proceeds to tell her off, saying she was at a brothel and helping people with HIV/AIDS, then proceeds to say she hopes she ruined the rest of the woman's vacation. And while earlier in the book she noted that during treatment, her family and friends described her as angry and volatile, this comment allowed me to realize that despite the peaceful picture she paints of herself, she's still got a lot of work to do. BTW, The rating system on this book appears to be mixed up. When I logged on, the system said there were 207 customer reviews, but there were only 4. And the overall rating was 2 stars but the four reviews shown were all either 4 stars or 5. Something's missing....

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2013

    She is just bitter

    Bitter woman no one can do any right except her I Think Her Mother Is Beauitful what a rotten daughter

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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