All That Is Bitter & Sweet: A Memoir

by Ashley Judd

Hardcover, 2011




Ballantine Books (2011), Edition: First Edition, 432 pages


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.… (more)


(66 ratings; 3.3)

User reviews

LibraryThing member momtorghj
Didn't like it at all - Judd comes across as self-worshiping, whiny and superior. She went to great lengths in parts of her book to disguise the identity of the people she was talking about and then in other parts, she goes to the other extreme and tells stories that are not her's to tell. The
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worst parts of the book are her overseas trips - she sees herself as a secular Mother Theresa. I liked Ashley before I read this book - now I'm glad that she's barely in movies anymore.
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LibraryThing member arielfl
This is an very powerful, thought provoking book. I picked it up thinking it would just dish some dirt on the Judds. Naomi and Wynonna are always out and about dropping bombs about each other in the media. Ashley is hardly ever seen with them and I was sort of wondering why. This book answer that
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but it is so much more. The stories Ashley tells of women suffering in third world countries, selling their bodies to keep them and their children from starving is heartbreaking. I don't know how you can read this book and be a woman and not be moved by our sisters in suffering. The book opens up with Ashley's work with PSI which among other things brings education about how to stay safe sexually to women in countries living such abject poverty. PSI is working to empower women and to cut the rate of AIDS. Some of the stories are so difficult to read and at times I had to put the book down and step away for awhile. The middle part of the book is about Ashleys own recovery from sexual abuse and certain family situations. Honestly this dragged for me. Everything is spoken about in vague terms and after reading some of the stories in the beginning of the book Ashleys suffering doesn't seem so great. I mean she has an attractive, loving husband, tons of money and a house in Tennessee and a castle in Scotland to live in. I know her mom was kind of selfish but after seeing women literally dying on the streets of Cambodia, Africa, and India, it just doesn't seem too bad. The last part of the book was devoted to more charity work and Ashley's time at Harvard. I applaud the work she's doing. I would want to rescue every woman in this book and she tries her best but there are cultural confines that constrict her efforts. One of the groups she mentions is Women for Women which I first heard about on the Oprah show. They do amazing work by giving women jobs and a trade in order to break the cycle of poverty. I recommend this book to everyone so they too can see what really goes on beyond just the parts of the world that the tourists see.
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LibraryThing member debbieaheaton
Ashley Judd is an award-winning film and stage actress know for many roles, and the daughter and sister of the legendary country music duo, The Judds. In 2002, she became a humanitrian and advocate for those suffering in neglected parts of the world. Along the way, Ashley realized that the coping
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strategies she had used all her life to deal with her own emotional pain stemming from childhood abandonment, were no longer effective. Entering into treatment, she discovered recovery as well as herself.

An amazing journey of one woman to find peace within.
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LibraryThing member ifnotforbooks
I think Ashley wrote about her own family so people would buy the book because had she written a book just about the horrors women in third world countries face not many would be read. The bits about her family were a way to give voice to the real message she wanted to bring to light. Much of this
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book was hard to read and just broke my heart. I came away with 1) famous, rich people can have just as screwed up life as anyone else. 2) I need to thank God more often that I was born in America and for the blessings I have. 3) I don't think much of Naomi Judd
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LibraryThing member stillwaters12
The organizations listed at the end of this book make for a deep resource list for more information on a multitude of charites and helping organizations. Ashley's memories are stark and clear. Her experience and knowledge of the disempowered women and girls in the global south are vast. I had some
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trouble with finding her some times selfless and sometimes self absorbed. The information she provides is vastly more important than any mixed feelings I had. No doubt, she has gone and done what few are able and willing to do.
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LibraryThing member olegalCA
Ugh. I went into this liking Ashley Judd a lot - I came out much less enthused. At one point in her book, Judd tells Bobby Shriver that her vocation is to make her life an act of worship - I'm sorry to say that she has succeeded in worshiping herself. I have never read a biography that was more
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full of self-love than this one. She is the supreme example of a person who pursues a life of "doing good" in order to be thought a saint.

Walk away very fast.
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LibraryThing member WellReadSoutherner
Not quite what I thought it was going to be. Mostly about her world relief efforts than actual autobio. Not bad but very back and forth, confusing and so much detail about the poverty around the world. I would have liked more detail about her life than the work that PSI does. But then again, I
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guess that is her life now.
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LibraryThing member Chris.Wolak
Autobiographies by "stars" are not my cup of tea, but I've always admired the work of Ashely Judd--both her film work and her advocacy of feminism, but I didn't know the extent of her feminist social justice work until reading this memoir (she's on the board of directors of Population Services
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International and recently graduated from the Harvard Kennedy School). Judd (and her co-author Maryanne Vollers) writes beautifully about the pain and beauty of her childhood and young adult years--the anger, the isolation, the dysfunction, the depression, and her road to recovery. Her description of going through a treatment program and her on-going daily practice is helpful for others on their own journey toward healing and health. If you're the type who ONLY believes in pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, this book might not be for you. But if you're working a program, on a spiritual path, or have come to question whether you can truly do it all by yourself, this book might be helpful. I was slightly worried about reading about her experiences of visiting brothels around the world where young girls and women are enslaved in the sex trade, but Judd writes about her visits and activism with such a sense of hope for real change through the implementation of practical programs to raise women out of poverty (one of the main reasons for sexual slavery) that I was left with a sense of hope for the world. I'm glad I own a copy because this is one book I'll go back to for encouragement when I need some. And I have a list of names and organizations to learn about, too. I hope Ashley Judd keeps writing and publishing.
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LibraryThing member AlvaLewis
Ashley cries, sobs, weeps and bawls seemingly on every page. This downbeat memoir, in which she makes herself the main character in stories about her half-sister's paternity and therapy, is not worth the $1.99 that I paid for it.

The author is much more like her narcissistic mother than she cares to
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admit. That is the memoir she needs to write.
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Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

432 p.; 6.4 inches


034552361X / 9780345523617
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