books · memoir · Monday · non-fiction · Uncategorized

Monday, life is bitter and sweet…

A Black Cat Book Review

All That Is Bitter And Sweet by Ashley Judd
and Maryanne Vollers

Before reading Ashley Judd’s book what I knew about her:

  • she is beautiful
  • daughter of Naomi Judd, sister of Wynonna
  • award-winning actress
  • once one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood
  • married to a race car driver
  • has homes in Tennessee and Scotland
  • has no children

After reading her book I now know:

  • she had a difficult childhood
  • her mother was self-absorbed and often neglected her
  • college graduate
  • has a Master’s in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard
  • was in rehab for depression and codependency
  • political activist and humanitarian
  • woman of deep faith

Taken from diaries she kept while traveling Africa and Asia as the Global Ambassador for Population Services International the book proves Ashley Judd is more than what you see.  She writes openly about her childhood and how those memories drew her to work on behalf of poor, sick, and disenfranchised women and children of Third World countries.

The accounts of her travels with PSI are hard to read;  the violence and horror is not unexpected. However, the accounts of her often unhappy and sad childhood are surprising. Though she has a good relationship with her mother now, as a child she was often neglected  and  was shuttled between family members, attending thirteen schools before graduating from high school.  Judd writes honestly about those times and it is easy to understand why she struggles with depression.

Judd’s writes about her family without extremes or excuses or blame and reveals some secrets in a straight forward way.  She went through a lot when a little girl and is a strong woman now, perhaps because of it.

There is some mention of her career as an actress and her private life now, but, clearly this is a book about the passion she has for her humanitarian work and how it led to her political activism.  The stories she tells of the women and children victims of sexual violence and slavery are chilling.  They are not second-hand stories but stories from Judd’s meetings with the victims in their own environments. 

Her first trip with PSI began a journey of not only commitment to the forgotten and uncared for victims of abuse but a journey of self-discovery and deepening faith.  This book is well worth reading not only to be made aware of the unspeakable that is happening everyday in the world but also as a testament of the survival and courage of those living it.   And it is the story well worth reading of a quiet dismissed little girl who grew up to be a woman of insight, courage, passion, faith, and determination to make the world a better place.

Ashley Judd is not just a pretty face.