brandishopgirl's review against another edition

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4.0


I was so impressed with Ashley’s story. I had no idea about her family background, and it overwhelmed me. The uncertainty and the loneliness of her youth, and the callous insensitivity of her mother made me incredibly sad. I admire her search for true humanity and justice for women, children and those who are suffering. I was unaware of how much she had invested into these pursuits, her dedication to her faith or of the struggles she had with depression and the instability of her mental health. I am grateful to have read her story. Not an easy read, but oh so valuable. Reading books about women who OVERCOME is so critical. I’m glad that this book is available for those who struggle with similar concerns, because Ashley is quite vulnerable and honest in ways that reach beyond the page right to the heart of a reader.

jcm's review against another edition

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2.0

DNF

I love her, and the kindness and compassion she exudes, but I couldn't get through this.

carrs52's review against another edition

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5.0

I really liked it! Not a quick read, but very interesting!

ekloretto's review against another edition

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3.0

From seeing some of Ashley's press for this book I knew that it wasn't going to be a detailed account of her time making movies I love. No glamorous recounting of the "Hollywood" life. That is not the life that she leads.
It is her travel diaries interspersed with her personal stories. She is honest! You can just tell that she is not holding back, whether its the deplorable stories of women and children that she meets along the way or her own childhood. She even opens up as much as is allowable about her 42 days in recovery. She definitely relates to the stories she has heard and she helps the reader find ways to relate as well; to understand what is really going on out there in the undeveloped countries of our world.
As good as this the message of this book is, it definitely has some slow/low points. The writing style can be verbose and especially when traveling it can become repetitive. It just feels long. I unfortunately found myself counting down the pages and excited when I finished.

lisa_casey's review against another edition

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3.0

I have always been a fan of Ashley Judd. Her book was inspiring to fight the good fights that speak to our souls. At times the book gets a bit long winded and repetitive but it is certainly worth a read.

Certainly not your typical Hollywood Actress story but certainly shows that when you are able to help and have such compassion in your heart anything is possible.

astrocourt's review against another edition

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3.0

The book: All That Is Bitter And Sweet

The author: Ashley Judd, American activist and actress.

The subject: Judd's life, from a childhood characterised by neglect and abuse to becoming an activist (with a bit of Hollywood in between).

Why I chose it: I'm not actually that familiar with Ashley Judd as an actress. I heard about this book while looking something else up relating to bad stuff that happened in my childhood. I was interested to see how Judd managed to deal with her own experiences.

The rating: Three of five stars

What I thought of it: This book isn't a typical Hollywood memoir. Most of it is about Judd's international charity work, with a bit about her difficulties in growing up (including rape, abuse and neglect). It's definitely heavy stuff, but I quite enjoyed reading it nonetheless.

I am very conscious of how white people going to other countries can turn into a white saviour complex (see: voluntourism), but Judd's efforts do seem to be more meaningful than just hugging orphans, though she does a lot of this and it's hard to get away from my concerns. She talks about the unfairness of how she is more likely to be listened to than the women and her relative privilege, but puts the point forward that she can use this privilege for good. She comes across as very earnest, but that's probably better than being frivolous, though the past more cynical me would have probably derided her writing.

I found the parts about her healing from her childhood to be the most interesting parts, probably because that's where I'm at right now and what attracted me to the book in the first place. I'm an atheist, but I found her interpretation of religion and God very interesting to read about, particularly as it inspires her to actually do some good. The thing that annoyed me the most was that the book jumps about in time rather a lot, which gets confusing in parts where it isn't clearly delineated.

I would recommend reading this if you're interested in a story about how an activist deals with their own stuff and uses it to inspire them, and you won't get annoyed by a lot of introspection or upset by descriptions of extreme poverty.

Just one more thing: I first properly heard about Ashley Judd through this article, which is a really interesting take-down of how the media treats female celebrities.

traciodi's review against another edition

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5.0

Fabulous and inspirational!

crystalsea24's review against another edition

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4.0

there was a duality to this book for me, implied in the title itself. All that is bitter and sweet--and this book was both for me. Not just in the stories Judd related about the horrific situations and conditions around the world, but also in the grueling personal stories she told, versus the hope she felt after recovery, and the difference organizations like the ones she works with are doing. PSI is not an organization with which I'm familiar; it sounds like they do a good job being effective and helping some of the neediest people in the world. and I applaud Judd's drive to help those people herself, with her involvement, attention, political action, financial contributions, etc. I found the insider perspective on the Hollywood life/ activist lifestyle interesting. Her religious beliefs--uber feminist universalist unitarian?--were a bit odd for me, but it's her life, and so I didn't think on it too much. It was odd that I could relate to her thought process and personality in so many ways, and yet I'm not sure I would want to be friends with her personally...she seems like she'd be uncomfortable to know. then again, so do many of her famous friends, people like Bono. I was pleasantly surprised to hear about Salma Hayek. I didn't know about her work at all, and I was left with the impression she's a comfortable, fun person to be around. But uncomfortable people are important, because they make everyone else face the darkness around them and DO SOMETHING about it, instead of just blindly accepting it or ignoring it. I guess I have more sympathy for those around me listening to my rants about politics, the environment, etc.
Related to that, my only sadness was that she didn't address any of the issues she and have common interests in--no mention of mountaintop removal mining and the tragic loss of home and livelihood for the Applalachian people affected by it. She only mentioned her work with Defenders of Wildlife in passing, and I would have liked to have heard more about it. Considering the passionate level of attachment and sensitivity to animals that she has, I am surprised she didn't touch on it at all.
I am not at all sorry I read this, but I don't want to read it again any time soon. I also do not want to go through rehab. it sounds very uncomfortable, no matter how productive. She sets a great example for those who need the help, though, and shows how effective it really can be. So, good for Ashley Judd. Keep it up!

loribeth1961's review against another edition

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3.0

I have a fondness/weakness for Hollywood/celebrity memoirs. This was not one of them -- at least, not a typical one. Yes, Ashley Judd does discuss her acting career and some of the famous people she's met along the way -- but that is not the focus of this book, or of Judd's life, for that matter. Acting may pay the bills, but Judd's life passion is clearly for her humanitarian work, particularly on behalf of women and girls, and mostly in concert with Population Services International (PSI), which has taken her to slums, brothels and clinics in developing countries such as Cambodia, India, Rwanda and Congo. The book describes her travels on behalf of PSI and the sometimes horrifying personal stories of the women and children she met in mind-numbing detail.

It's overwhelming for us to read -- and it has been overwhelming for Judd to live through. After a couple of years of such trips, and finding it increasingly difficult to cope emotionally, she realized she needed to resolve the needs of her own neglected inner child. In 2006, she checked herself into an intensive 42-day rehabilitation program at Shades of Hope, a treatment facility in Buffalo Gap, Texas, where she tackled deep-rooted issues of depression and co-dependency. Growing up, Judd was bounced around among various relatives and often left to fend for herself while her mother worked as a nurse and doggedly pursued a career in country music with her older daughter.

At the time she wrote the book, Judd was married to race car driver Dario Franchitti, and she describes how they met and got married in a Scottish castle. He's more absent than present in this book, however, and since its publication, they have divorced. No doubt their busy careers and the long spells apart that Judd describes in the book had something to do with it.

I admire Ashley Judd hugely for all she has accomplished, personally and professionally, and overall, this was a thoughtful and absorbing book. It's a worthy read, especially if you are interested in her life & work, or in global feminist/humanitarian causes generally. But it's not an easy book to get through (there's a reason why it took me a full year, on & off...!). The subject matter, while worthy of attention, is difficult (you probably NEED to take a break from it every now & then); the language, while powerful and eloquent, includes a little too much spiritual and 12-step recovery movement jargon for my liking. At 470 pages (!), it probably could have been 100 pages shorter, and still gotten its messages across effectively. Three stars.

simsarah79's review against another edition

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couldn't finish. I love this woman and I was so excited to read about her personal life. I got into the book pretty quickly and refused to put it down because i wanted to love it so much but after a while I had this nagging feeling like I was annoyed at her writing like she was name dropping and trying to be really nice about her family but it didn't come across as genuine. Also I thought she was just like " I did this and I did that " and I congratulate her on doing all this work for such a wonderful cause but I just couldn't get through the book. :(