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All That Is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir Paperback – February 21, 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 309 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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

About the Author

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (February 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345523628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345523624
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (309 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kcorn TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not the first time where Ashley Judd has provided revelations about her early life as well as her difficult road towards independence and individuality.

But this time she has provided additional details, the kind of details that could provide hope and inspiration for others who have suffered difficult and extremely painful bouts of anxiety, depression and/or a lack of passion for work.

Perhaps Judd's greatest courage comes in chronicling the various sexual abuses she endured. As of this writing, her family is reportedly (according to media coverage) unhappy with Ashley's revelations.

But breaking the silence surrounding childhood sexual abuse is an act of courage and every celeb and other person who doesn't flinch or waver from the hard truth can help others cope as well. Even more admirable? Judd transcended her own personal pain to reach out for social justice instead of remaining mired in depression and fear - and instead of feeling powerless for the rest of her life.

Hard for adults to understand, perhaps, but Judd makes clear that children don't automatically understand that sexual predators are being "abusive." Instead, children can feel a range of emotions, from confusion to fear ...or even shame.

For anyone familiar with the press surrounding the Judd family, it is no secret that there have been tensions, even outright breaks in the family. Unlike Wynonna and Naomi Judd, famed as singers, Ashley opted to become primarily an actress - and then she seemed to fade from the spotlight. "All That is Bitter and Sweet" explains why this happened and how Ashley's feelings affected her decision to veer from acting.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great candid memoir by the talented Hollywood actress turned humanitarian Ashley Judd, titled "All That Is Bitter And Sweet : A Memoir". In this touching/emotional memoir, Ashley Judd describes herself as a daughter of the world famous country music superstar singer Naomi Judd : but her childhood upbringing was rather erratic, chaotic & unstable despite her mother's trying efforts. She struggled/suffered emotionally, psychologically & sexual abuse during her 13 school years (attending 13 different schools from the tender age of 5 years to young adulthood at 18 years). Her older sister Wynonna Judd joined hands with their mother Naomi Judd to build up a musical empire in country music (the great country supergroup The Judds), while she persued acting in Hollywood with great success. Before leaving successful acting career for personal reasons, she was one of the highly paid actress in Hollywood. Ashley Judd, now 42 years has suffered depression, suicidal thoughts & memories of her sexual abuse from various men over the years. In 2006 Ashley Judd was 'finally' admitted in Texas for the treatment of depression as an in-patient with great improvement of her condition. The great support of her racecar driver husband Dario Franchiti whom she married in 2001 & family also was very crucial & influential in seeing her back on her feet again. Her story has positive spin : she managed to channel her anger/grief into humanitarian work as a YouthAIDS ambassador for Population Services International (working for the betterment of poor children/communities in developing continents/counties of Africa & Asia among others. She has finally found peace within herself & declares her painful past as her greatest asset! On overall, this is a great emotional rollercoaster ride (bitter) memoir with a positive (sweet) that is candid/engaging, a highly recommended book/memoir reading.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not a typical celebrity memoir. It is a book about social justice, recovery from trauma, and about how to live in this world. It changed my life.

I bought this book on Kindle in order to receive and read it quickly. I have since bought two hardcopies, one to keep, one to give away. This book is for anyone who cares about our world, and how to deal with the suffering, the grief, and the despair that occurs all over the world--for anyone who wants to make a difference--while at the same time not being dragged down by their own sadnesses, inadequacies, and grief. It is for anyone who wants to care about others and still care for themselves so that they can keep on making a difference and not live out of woundedness.

I wanted to read Ashley's memoir after seeing her performance in "Helen" thinking it would be about depression. It is--sort of--but it's more about living with whatever scars you have from childhood, and thus would appeal to anyone serious about living as a compassionate person.

The book starts off with difficult details of Ashley's upbringing and how she was affected by various people in her life, including her mother Naomi and her sister Wynona. This is not a smear of these much-loved family members, however, but a realistic portrayal of how Ashley (and we) can come to terms with how we reconcile with those who have caused us pain throughout our lives. Ashley dealt with neglect, molestation, and abuse, and emerged a severely traumatized adult.

The book continues with how she became an activist and why. It very movingly describes details of her activism work throughout the world, including combatting sex slavery and sex trafficking.
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