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All That Is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir

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3.59  ·  Rating details ·  4,200 ratings  ·  506 reviews
Ashley Judd is an award-winning film and stage actor known for her roles in both box-office hits and art-house gems, and the daughter and sister of country-music royalty. In 2002, drawing on a deep well of empathy, she found her true calling: as a humanitarian and advocate for those suffering in neglected parts of the world.

Asked why she was opting out of a successful care
...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published April 5th 2011 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  4,200 ratings  ·  506 reviews


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Connie Faull
Jul 03, 2011 rated it liked it
I'm not sure how I feel about Ashley Judd after reading this memoir. I liked her before I read it and now, I'm not sure. Although I admire and give her credit for her work with PSI and other NGOs in raising awareness of gender inequality & HIV/AIDS around the world, she did reinforce my dislike of celebrities & causes. I somehow feel that they think we're all stupid and it's up to them to enlighten us on the ills of the world. Why someone like Bono or Ashley Judd should be able to secure meeting ...more
Heather
This book is not a page turner. It is at points very hard to read because of the sheer hopelessness Ashley encounters in her work with those struggling in third-world countries. Her book opened my eyes to the many, many women who are forced into prostitution and sex slavery. However, I would highly recommend reading it because after processing what I read I realized there is hope and Ashley is just one of the very curageous and brave people who are doing the work to make change. Also, if you com ...more
Renee
May 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Ashley Judd’s memoir is actually two books in one; a memoir of her highly dysfunctional childhood growing up as a Judd (but not at all part of her mother and sister’s singer duo), and walking away from her TV and acting career to travel the world as an ambassador for PSI and NGO. Personally, I was much more interested in the latter than the former.
I read a couple of reviews that say this book has a lot of clichés and is (over) emotional however, Judd longs to bring a voice to the voiceless and s
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Tina
Apr 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
Couldn't even make myself finish this book! Went into it all admiring Ashley Judd for both her talent and her philanthropic work and found myself wanting to throw the book against the wall more than a couple of times until I finally gave up completely. I found her to be pretentious and totally self-absorbed. She really seems to like to play the role of the victim as well. Most of what I read had a real poor me tone to it. Very few of us have perfect childhoods, but unless she left a bunch out, h ...more
Caroline
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
You would never know this poised, beautiful and confident person was suffering nearly all the years we have seen her perform. This book is about her suffering and her from clinical depression (for which she was treated for in a 42 day clinic) and her generous spirit to people in dire need. I think her ability to give so much fills the void or attemps to, from her chaotic experience of growing up in the shadow of her mom and sister (The Judds.)

She managed to flip her fate around through her heal
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Jennifer
Apr 13, 2011 rated it did not like it
Ugh. I went into this liking Ashley Judd a lot - I came out much less enthused. At one point in her book, Judd tells Bobby Shriver that her vocation is to make her life an act of worship - I'm sorry to say that she has succeeded in worshiping herself. I have never read a biography that was more full of self-love than this one. She is the supreme example of a person who pursues a life of "doing good" in order to be thought a saint.

Walk away very fast.
Julie
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like Ashley Judd. I like some of her movies and I have always thought she was so pretty. She does a lot of good work for some very worthy causes. But I don't like her, in fact I'm totally turned off by her. She seems to be one of those people that thinks her opinions are right, always, and everyone who does not agree is just ignorant. Everybody else has messed up priorities, come on people don't we all know there is severe suffering out there! I am seriously put off by her and ...more
Lisa
Jun 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
I probably shouldn't mark this read considering I couldn't finish it. It jumped all over the place, especially in regard to the start of her career, and primarily spoke about her charity work. While her work is admirable, it gets boring reading about how she cuddled this group of people and snuggled that group of people, on and on. I found the tone a bit superior too.
Rose
Apr 12, 2011 added it
Yes, I am reading Ashley Judd's memoir. Whatever you may think of her acting(I happen to like her), she has devoted most of her adult life to aiding the poor and disenfranchised and using her celebrity status to bring awareness to topics like AIDS, African poverty, sex trade, etc. It's a sad state of affairs when a "celebrity" like Charlie Sheen gets more press for his behavior than a celebrity like Ashley Judd gets for hers.
Teri
May 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
One of the worst books I have ever read. The whole book was Ashley talking about how terrible her life was and how fantastic she is. There is an entire page of things that are great about her....including, she smells like lilacs. Don't waste your time.
Denise
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
This exquisite mixture of a deeply personal journey and a world-sized caring for the needs of women and children living in poverty, often drowning in disease, slavery and genocide. This book is a must read. While far too many actors waste their celebrity and their treasure, Ashley Judd has flung her gifts out to the world like a raft in an unspeakable storm.
Teri
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
Ashley Judd is not only an award-winning actress, she is an advocate for human rights and an ambassador for Population Services International (PSI). In her memoir, Judd details her involvement with PSI, traveling to Asia and Africa touring the brothels and slums while teaching the residents how to protect themselves against AIDS / HIV. Many women she encountered were trafficked into sex slavery or simply had no other choice to make money. While embarking on this humanitarian cause, Judd wrestles ...more
Yoonmee
Eh, this book is okay. Sadly, I think I liked Ashley Judd more before I read the book than now after finishing it. By this I mean that I always thought she was an intelligent, passionate, strong woman (from my sorta home state of Kentucky, no less!). After reading this book I still think she is all those things but now I also think she's a bit of a hot mess, way too histrionic, overly sensitive, and still dealing with her pain. Then again, if I had her childhood, I'd probably be a hot mess too, ...more
Katie
May 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
Finally gave up on this one. Judd's tone is so absolutely self promoting and full of herself I couldn't tolerate another page. She paints herself as the most emotionally, spiritually and philosophically evolved human on the planet and somehow I just didn't buy it. Her demonization of her family members left me anxious to know their side of the story. I was disappointed. I so wanted to love this book.
Sharon Bright
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I did not know I needed to read this book but I'm glad I did. Judd vulnerably describes her childhood with strength and tries to show perspective about those that were major players in her youth while still being honest about her feelings. I like that she explains that her childhood is her story to tell and others will have to respect that right. Woven amongst her past is her work with non-profits in many countries plagued with gender inequalities, poverty, disease and human trafficking. It beco ...more
Kelli
This book is actually two books in one. I don't mean for that to sound as complimentary as it comes across, by the way. When i say that this is two books in one I mean that this is one book that tells a good story and one book that should have remained in Ashley Judd's head, or at least in her therapist's head.

I could not figure out what this book was supposed to be. It's kind of like "My mom is a famous superstar but as a mom she is awful. I like kittens. My entire family is dysfunctional. I li
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Bex
Jul 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
I rarely read memoirs, let alone ones written by current celebrities but Ashley Judd has led a fairly fascinating life.

Of course she's an actress that comes from a famous (and famously dysfunctional) family but she has also spent a great many years as a feminist activist, quietly traveling the world with NGOs and coming face to face with the poorest, most exploited people on the planet.

And this memoir balances those two lives, providing insight on the tumultuous personal life that formed her d
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Courtney
I am a fan of Ashley Judd as an actress and of her mother and sister's music career, so I was intrigued to read the memoir of Ashley Judd. It wasn't really what I expected at all. There is a lot more heartache and pain, more strength and giving, more prayer and grace in this woman than I had previously believed.

Judd's volunteer work with a group that helps underprivileged women and children all over the world takes up a big portion of this book, as it ought to. It has really defined much of the
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Jenn(ifer)
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Intellectualized and skim-worthy.
Darcie K
Apr 05, 2011 marked it as to-read
I want to start a new book group dedicated to the celebrity bio. Who's in?
Catherine
All That Is Bitter and Sweet is several stories in one: the story of Judd's commitment to social justice work among global, at-risk populations for HIV, malaria, TB, and infant mortality; the unpacking of the story of her childhood, the details of which fuel so much of her work; and the story of her continuing recovery from abuse, co-dependency, and depression.

There's a discomfiting truth at the heart of the book, of which Judd is articulately aware - that a white, American movie star has better
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Odette
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Powerful memoir about a woman walking a wounded healer path. It shows the intersection of recovering from private trauma and addressing international human rights abuses, in this case sexual trafficking, slavery, and health issues.

The way Ms. Judd connects her own depression and wounds to those of the women and children she aims to help has an equalizing effect. She doesn't try to equate her life of great privilege with their lives of huge deprivation and abuse, but she steps out of the role of
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Laura
Apr 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who wish to learn more about modern slavery
Shelves: memoir
This memoir was very enlightening, both regarding Ashley's journey to self-discovery and healing and her journeys into the poorest countries in the world. I knew sex slavery was rampant, but I had no idea how horrific conditions for people all over the world are. There are so many things we Americans take for granted, such as being able to sleep in a bed or use a toilet, that we have difficulty imagining the circumstances plaguing people all over the world.

Ashley Judd does an excellent job of pr
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Anne
Mar 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
Oh my god what a piece of work! The book itself. And Ashley Judd. Oh my God. I went into this with very little interest in the Judds, country music, celebrities and I thought this might be a little bit different of a story. And oh my God for the heavy heavy heavy reading into the depths of depression and depravity and white trash syndrome of the southern United States, I really wish I had not put any of this into my brain.

Like other readers, I came out of it a little bit less enthused about Ashl
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Elizabeth
Jul 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
The book is perfectly balanced. Alternating between stories of Ashley Judd's difficult work as a world ambassador and her childhood and rehab experiences, it was amazing how the two stories could be told hand in hand. Seeing the similarity of her sisters around the world is Ms. Judd's greatest gift. Holding them with compassion and sharing their stories is the best work she's ever done.

This was a difficult book to get through. Not because of the way it was written, but because it
covers such dif
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Samineh
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Ashley Judd has an incredible vocabulary so it came as no suprise that her book was well written. I felt her memoir was primarily about her activism and really shed light on the circumstances of women/children in poor countries, but it also included intimate details about her life. I really enjoyed reading it and honestly had some trouble sleeping after reading about some of her encounters. I completely empathized and found myself processing the information and pain right along with her (to me a ...more
Janet
May 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
This woman loves the sound of her own voice ... she just loves herself to death.

\Why did she not say THEN about losing roles in Hollywood due to Weinstein (she could have stated that it happened but left out the name) did she say this was the reason she left?
"Asked why she was opting out of a successful career, walking away while she was one of the highest-paid women in Hollywood, Ashley herself could not provide an answer. She simply knew that after her first trip to the notorious brothels, slu
...more
Heidi
Apr 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm really enjoying this book. Don't judge me. I appreciate what she says about the roots of her depression being found in childhood - I can so relate to that - and how acting became a natural way to live other, more satisfying lives, if only for a time. What this book is really about, though, is her work with a nonprofit that seeks to educate women in the global South about HIV/AIDS prevention.
Shirley Jodouin
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s difficult to write a review on this memoir because there is so much to say. Ashley Judd not only captured my attention from the very first page, she pulled heart strings and managed to touch my very soul. It educated me, opened my eyes and heart to the cruelty...to put it lightly, to exploited women. I highly recommend this book. I will never take my safety as a woman for granted ever again!!
Abbe
Sep 20, 2012 added it
Shelves: in-library
Review

“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

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Ashley Tyler Judd, nee Ciminella, is an at least 8th generation Eastern Kentuckian. She currently resides on a farm in rural middle Tennessee and maintains close kinship and cultural ties with Appalachia.

A celebrated and acclaimed actor, she has starred in 20 films, both box office hits and independent treasures, and on Broadway. Titles include, Ruby in Paradise, her debut, which won the Sundance
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