Teri's Reviews > All That Is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir

All That Is Bitter and Sweet by Ashley Judd
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Oct 09, 2017

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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 with her own demons. Born into a very dysfunctional and abusive home, the actress often found herself on her own, abandoned by her family while they pursued a career in music. In between tours overseas, Judd checks into rehab to help herself, so she can help others.

I have always liked Judd as an actress. I counted her as one of my favorites to watch; except for Bug, oh Lord, what was she thinking about that one? I had the opportunity to see her speak in person, about her work with PSI and a bit of her own family history. I came away from the talk conflicted and find myself feeling the same after reading this book. No doubt she is a wonderful humanitarian. You can tell that she immerses herself in the cause to help people, especially women and children in the slums of places like Rwanda and the Congo. At the same time, she has had a lot to deal with in her own personal life. At times, she comes across as angry at average people that she has come across who don't know what she's been through or that know nothing about her work. One passage in the book that took me aback was in chapter 9, "Back at the hotel, a perky tourist from Texas recognized me in the business center and asked me if I was on safari. I let her blithe obliviousness and her expensive khakis irk me, and I blurted out bitterly, "No. In fact, I am on a HIV / AIDS prevention trip and have just been to three brothels." I hoped I had ruined her evening." I would think that would be a great opportunity to educate others on the conditions of the area she was touring and her work with PSI. I know she has been in the news for being rude like this to people, so this passage reinforced the idea that she may be a bit unapproachable to fans and others she comes across in everyday life.

There was just something in her tone throughout the book that didn't settle with me. She wasn't "bragging" but yet, she had an air of "see what I've done, I'm making a difference" then would follow that up with how broken she was during this time. I don't want to diminish what she went through, obviously, her childhood was traumatic and was unfairly treated. She is also a great humanitarian, but I get the sense that she is not so humbled by it and that she still deals with some duality to her personality.

If the book does nothing else, it does bring awareness to the global issues of sex trafficking and HIV / AIDS in other countries. She is certainly passionate about helping others and has formed bonds with many of the people she has met during her tours. These issues are the sad reality that many face every day and it is not just in "third world" countries, but happens in the US as well.
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Reading Progress

July 31, 2015 – Shelved
July 31, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
June 10, 2016 – Started Reading
October 9, 2017 – Shelved as: read-in-2017
October 9, 2017 – Finished Reading

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