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I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag: A Memoir of a Life Through Events--the Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don't Hardcover – May 15, 2012
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“A savvy, often funny account of the ups and downs of building a business; a penetrating look at how [Gilbert] overcame the psychological scars of the attack; a warm and happy ending. You’ll laugh with her, you’ll learn from her, and you’ll be glad you made her acquaintance.” (Parade)
“Packed with funny stories about bridezillas and demented captains of industry, this is a fascinating tale of how we regain joy in the aftermath of unspeakable horror.” (People (3 ½ stars))
” It would be easy to get caught up in the chatty details of all the near-disasters Gilbert encounters in her fast-paced life in the world of event planning but this memoir is about more than cake and flowers.” (Library Journal)
“Breathtakingly honest, funny, and surprising, I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag is the unforgettable story of how, after a traumatic encounter in her twenties, Jennifer Gilbert found her way back to happiness. I couldn’t stop reading.” (Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project)
“This is a beautiful and brave memoir, full of hard-won wisdom. I read it in one sitting. It speaks from the heart and to the heart.” (Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion)
“What distinguishes Gilbert’s memoir from the inspirational survivor pack is her willingness to share the bumps along her road to recovery. . . . [A] likable memoir that shows we can choose to be more than the sum of those events that are beyond our control.” (Kirkus Reviews)
From the Back Cover
When Jennifer Gilbert was just a year out of college, a twenty-two-year-old fresh-faced young woman looking forward to a bright future, someone tried to cut her life short in the most violent way. But she survived, and not wanting this traumatic event to define her life, she buried it deep within and never spoke of it again.
She bravely launched a fabulous career in New York as an event planner, designing lavish parties and fairy-tale weddings. Determined to help others celebrate and enjoy life's greatest moments, she was convinced she'd never again feel joy herself. Yet it was these weddings, anniversaries, and holiday parties, showered with all her love and attention through those silent, scary years, that slowly brought her back to life.
Always the calm in the event-planning storm—she could fix a ripped wedding dress, solve the problem of an undelivered wedding cake in the nick of time, and move a party with two days' notice when disaster struck—there was no crisis that she couldn't turn into a professional triumph. Somewhere along the way, she felt a stirring in her heart and began yearning for more than just standing on the sidelines living vicariously through other people's lives. She fell in love, had her heart broken a few times, and then one day she found true love in a place so surprising that it literally knocked her out of her chair.
As Gilbert learned over and over again, no one's entitled to an easy road, and some people's roads are bumpier than others. But survive each twist and turn she does—sometimes with tears, sometimes with laughter, and often with both.
Warm, wise, alternately painful and funny, I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag is an inspiring memoir of survival, renewal, and transformation. It's a tale about learning to let go and be happy after years of faking it, proving that while we can't always control what happens to us, we can control who we become. And instead of anticipating our present in a goodie bag at the end of an event, we realize our presence at every event is the real gift.
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Gilbert tells her story in a straightforward, clear manner. This book is not 100 percent cliche-free, but it's close. Because of the different themes Gilbert addresses, I think there's something in this memoir for everyone. For me, I connected with the way Gilbert framed the concept of fear.
The last third of the book got a tad bit preachy (and I do mean "tad"). The narrative shifted a bit, too, as Gilbert detailed her own lifestyle and parental choices. There's depth to her, for sure, but whatever shallowness she has comes forward a lot more in this latter part of the book.
Let's just say Gilbert is human, a survivor and a pretty good storyteller. If you like memoirs, I'd recommend this one.