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All That Is Bitter and Sweet

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All That Is Bitter and Sweet

A Memoir
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERIn 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...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERIn 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...
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  • 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

Excerpts-
  • 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...

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.

Reviews-
  • Marianne Williamson

    "All That Is Bitter and Sweet," is, at its heart, the story of Ashley Judd's awakening. In sharing the secrets of a childhood fraught with neglect, abuse and debilitating depression, she confronts the stigma of mental illness and celebrates the serenity that comes with the hard work of recovery. The reward is a new role on a new stage -- global advocate for HIV/AIDS sufferers. The humanitarian pursuit of social justice and gender equality is gritty work, but the people she meets in the slums, brothels, sex-slave markets, clinics and orphanages reinforce her faithful contention that every life has value. Judd's search for justice and peace -- for herself, and for the millions without a voice -- is testament to the adage that when we help one person, we help the whole world." --Greg Mortenson, author of NYT bestselling Three Cups of Tea "Ashley Judd has written a deeply moving story -- amazingly, searingly, frank. It is her life story, warts and all. As I read her account of her childhood, I ask 'How could one so traumatized, so abused in childhood, become the woman we know, so caring, so altruistic, so compassionate, so concerned for others, and so joyful?'" --Archbishop Desmond Tutu "Ashley Judd is has lived an extraordinary life. She has learned from it and turned it into a blessing and a call to action for others. Her journey is both moving and inspiring, unique and universal. Reading about it makes your own life make more sense."

  • John Calipari, University of Kentucky Head Coach "This lovely woman, this movie star, this determined dreamer will be familiar to you, assuming you have struggled to resolve your childhood, carve out a career and make greater use of yourself. Ashley Judd's story reminds us to work harder and on more important tasks, and promises that if we do, contentedness awaits." --Kelly Corrigan, author of NYT bestselling The Middle Place and Lift "Judd's hauntingly beautiful memoir reflects upon her life as actress, wife, daughter, sister, woman of faith, and ultimately, as friend of the world's forgotten. The book is engaging as a narrative (I could not put it down), but this is not your typical 'celebrity memoir.' All That is Bitter and Sweet is written with uncommon depth and uncommon love. It has the power to transport you not only into the mind and spirit of a true activist, but into the elusive meaning of our shared humanity, and even into unexpected places in your own soul. Prepare to have your eyes opened and your heart jolted. --Sue Monk Kidd "Ashley Judd has given us magnetic and searingly honest portrayals of diverse women on screen. Now with the same honesty and magnetism, she brings us her true self on the page. From her childhood to her revolutionary empathy with women and girls living very different lives, her path will inspire readers on journeys of their own." --Gloria Steinem "All That Is Bitter and Sweet is all that is 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 "Over the last decade I have watched my gifted, brilliant friend grow as an artist, but more importantly, as a wise, deeply empathetic woman. I have read the diaries that are the heart of this memoir since she began traveling the world, fearing for her safety and sanity, baffled why she chooses these grueling missions. All That Is Bitter and Sweet will be a revelation to readers, exposing Ashley Judd for what I have known for years she is: An amazing woman doing extraordinary work." --Morgan Freeman "There are certain books that stay with you far after the last page--Ashley Judd's All That Is Bitter and Sweet is that very type of book. With her sincere honesty, her commitment to servant leadership and her intens
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