Part of the book is her recalling her childhood. Being raised by two very dysfunctional parents, eventually dealing with her Mom and Sister's success in the country music world. When reading one person's account on their childhood, I always try to remember that this is one side of the story, but even if it is not the whole story, it is her story. Through the eyes of the child she once was. It is a very sad story. Much of it is backed up by the fact of her sister Wynonna's account and her mom's own words "It's true, it's all true". Which makes the neglect and at times abuse all the more sad. But Ashley tells her childhood story not to just spill her guts, but as a way of giving the reader an understanding of how it colored her adult life, making it necessary to get treatment, but also helping her develop a strong since of right and wrong. And when it gets to this part of the book, well for me, I could not put the book down.
Ashley Judd has spent a large part of her adult life forgoing Hollywood and taking parts few and far between, so she can devote her time advocating for Social Justice around the world. In her book, she takes us to parts of the world I knew next to nothing about. She goes into brothels in countries like Cambodia, Rwanda, Congo, India, etc. She tells the stories of women who fall into the sex trade for economic reasons, because of misogamy, slave trade and so on. She tells the stories of children who are orphaned because both parents have died of aids. She talks about meeting world leaders from these countries, relief workers who are with great risk to their own safety, doing Gods work. She tells these stories with great respect to their lives, even the stories of some of the abusive madams, pimps, and johns who I would have a hard time feeling any compassion for. I must say, I have been totally ignorant of the plight of so many in the world.
Splattered all through out the book is spirituality and her relationship with God. Her anger at God, her love for God, her seeking his guidance and most of all seeking Gods comfort.
What I came away with after reading this book is a better understanding of some of the truly forgotten people of this world, and a renewed determination to find a way to serve someone who needs help in my own world other than family. At the beginning of the year, I listed some things I wanted to work on. Health issues, home issues so I would not feel quite so isolated. But it is time for me to start working on something else I listed. Find a way to serve within the confines of my life. It is not enough to just send some money to an organization every month to help an orphan or help a woman start a business in the developing world. There is such need all around us, even in a small community. If my health was different, I would volunteer at our local school one or two days in a kindergarten. That's what I love to do and I am good at it. But school volunteers need to be dependable and always show up. Because of my "issues" I can not make that commitment. But I am thinking. I am trying to think outside the box, and maybe, just maybe I will think of a way to be of use that might make a difference for someone in need. The focus is now there and I will let you know if I come up with anything. Even if it is just a small act of kindness I can regularly send out to this community and world.