Synopses & Reviews
Ashley Judd is best known as the acclaimed actress in films such as De Lovely
and Double Jeopardy
, but these days she is more likely to be found wading through an African refugee camp or Asian brothel than on a film set. For most of the past decade Judd has been visiting human rights hotspots around the world to spread the word of hope, health, and gender equality on behalf of one of the leading public health nonprofits, PSI/YouthAIDS. Her work has put her in the company of Bono, Bill Clinton, and other world leaders in the battle against disease and poverty and in advocating grassroots programs to improve the lives of women and children.
Memories of her own painful childhood inspired Judd to reach out to those in desperate need, especially abused and abandoned girls. She writes movingly of friends such as Kausar, an AIDS sufferer in the slums of Mumbai who becomes an activist and peer-educator, and heroes such as Dr. Rene, who lends his heart and soul to keep the sex workers of Madagascar from contracting and spreading HIV.
Judd also describes her own personal spiritual journey of discovery that takes place during the interludes between her trips overseas. Through being of service to others, she unlocks the door to her own unsettled past, including an abusive childhood, and later on, her issues with co-dependency and depression. Through the act of bearing witness to others, Judd finds her own path to healing. Her recovery becomes integral to her ability to continue her humanitarian work. It reaffirms what her faith teaches her: “When I change myself I help change the whole world.”
Judd recorded her experiences both abroad and at home in more than five hundred pages of journal entries, which she has woven into a highly personal and powerful memoir about change, hope, and human transformation.
"It's widely known that Ashley Judd is a popular actress, with a roster of both large and small films on her CV, and hails from the same family that produced a country music sensation, but Judd is also a dedicated philanthropist and a global ambassador for Population Services International (PSI). In this frank and heartfelt memoir, Judd reveals the tumultuous and abusive childhood that led her to wrestle with anger and abandonment. She worked through these issues in therapy in order to recommit to both her acting and her role as an advocate for sex workers and public health issues. Skeptics, who think of Judd as another actress out of her depth, should be quieted by Judd's completion of a masters degree at Harvard University in 2010, better equipping her to carry on her mission of social justice. In his foreword, Kristof calls Judd a serious advocate following 'a calling.' On paper she is sensitive, thoughtful, devoid of narcissism or unnecessary drama, and shows superb judgment in collaborating with Vollers, whose 2007 book Lone Wolf, about abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph, was excellent. Judd's resolve and dedication to her work is humbling and inspiring, and her memoir is fantastic. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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 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, slums, and hospices of southeast Asia, her own life depended on advocating on behalf of the vulnerable. Promising each new sister, “I will never forget you,” Ashley began writing extraordinary diaries—on which this memoir is based—expanding her capacity to relate to, and to share with a global audience, stories of survival and resilience.
Along the way, Ashley realized that the coping strategies she had developed to deal with her own emotional pain, stemming from childhood abandonment, were no longer working. 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 an expanded kit of spiritual tools that energized and advanced her feminist social justice work.
Now, in this deeply moving and unforgettable memoir, Ashley Judd describes her odyssey, as a left-behind lost child attains international prominence as a fiercely dedicated advocate. Her story ranges from anger to forgiveness, isolation to interdependence, depression to activism. In telling it, she resoundingly answers the ineffable question about the relationship between healing oneself and service to others.
About the Author
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.