Jun 8, 2013

Memoir: I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert

Title:  I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag: A Memoir of a Life Through Events - the Ones You Plan and the Ones You Don't by Jennifer Gilbert
Published April 30, 2013; Harper Paperbacks

About the book: A young woman survives a brutal attack by a stranger in the apartment building of friends and uses her demanding work as an events planner to cope with the stress she carries with her for years, before coming to terms with her experience.

Comments: I was as appalled as the author was by the reactions of her friends and family to her attack, the abandonment she felt during and after the attack. This is a very personal memoir of those events, when only one friend was able to give her the understanding she needed to cope with the aftermath. Everyone else in her eyes just added to her burden, as she had to cope with their grief and inadequate reactions in addition to dealing with her own feelings, without getting the kind of understanding she needed.

I felt that this book was really aimed at the people Jennifer Gilbert knows, as this is such a personal reaction that readers in general may not get why they are reading this book. Nevertheless, this is an account of a brave but slow recovery after painful and traumatic experiences.  At the very end of the book, Jennifer pulls together all the pain and sorrow in her life to this conclusion:

 "You can't control what may happen to you in this life, but you can control who you want to be after it happens. 
It's a very simple, yet powerful statement. Instead of fearing what will happen for my children in the future, I can just love them for who they are right now. Instead of fighting my body,I can give thanks for it. And instead of worrying about life and what it has in store for me, I can throw my hands up in the air and enjoy the ride.

Publisher description: When Jennifer Gilbert was twenty-two years old, someone tried to cut her life short in the most violent way. Not wanting this traumatic encounter to define her life, she buried it within and bravely launched a fabulous career in New York as an event planner. Always the calm in the storm—from fixing a ripped dress to relocating a lavish party on two days' notice—she was convinced she'd never again feel joy herself. Yet these weddings, anniversaries, and holiday parties slowly brought her back to life. No one's entitled to an easy road, Gilbert learned, but instead of anticipating our present in a goodie bag, it's our presence that is the real gift. 

I received a complimentary review copy of this book. 


  1. Sounds like an interesting memoir.

    I like that quote about being able to control the people who one goes through life with. I am a big believer as I get over I am picky as to who I associate with.

  2. I think I was expecting this to be fluffy. But its very very personal, isnt it?

  3. This sounds like a very affecting memoir. Wonderful review.

  4. Thanks for a very nice review.

  5. Thanks for your great review. I am glad the author did have one friend that gave her support. It is sad that more people were not supportive. This sounds like a moving memoir.

    1. Lots of people thought they were being supportive, but from the author's point of view, they made things worse!

  6. Sounds like an amazing read! I like those words of advice....

  7. I've heard a lot of good things about this one! This sounds like a really fascinating memoir!

  8. This sounds like an interesting memoir. I like that quote about "You can't control what may happen to you in this life...". Great review!


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