Spotlight on: I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert

Jennifer Gilbert’s memoir I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag was recently released in paperback. I reviewed it here in 2012 (review). Today I’ll spotlight it in case you missed it last year. Check out the link to the giveaway (US only) at the end of the spotlight!

goodie bag

  • Title:  I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag
  • Author:  Jennifer Gilbert
  • Genre:  Memoir
  • Published:  April 30, 2013 – Harper Paperbacks
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis: (from the Harper website)

When Jennifer Gilbert was just a year out of college, a twenty-two-year-old fresh-faced young woman looking forward to a bright future, someone tried to cut her life short in the most violent way. But she survived, and not wanting this traumatic event to define her life, she buried it deep within and never spoke of it again.

She bravely launched a fabulous career in New York as an event planner, designing lavish parties and fairy-tale weddings. Determined to help others celebrate and enjoy life’s greatest moments, she was convinced she’d never again feel joy herself. Yet it was these weddings, anniversaries, and holiday parties, showered with all her love and attention through those silent, scary years, that slowly brought her back to life.

Always the calm in the event-planning storm—she could fix a ripped wedding dress, solve the problem of an undelivered wedding cake in the nick of time, and move a party with two days’ notice when disaster struck—there was no crisis that she couldn’t turn into a professional triumph. Somewhere along the way, she felt a stirring in her heart and began yearning for more than just standing on the sidelines living vicariously through other people’s lives. She fell in love, had her heart broken a few times, and then one day she found true love in a place so surprising that it literally knocked her out of her chair.

As Gilbert learned over and over again, no one’s entitled to an easy road, and some people’s roads are bumpier than others. But survive each twist and turn she does—sometimes with tears, sometimes with laughter, and often with both.

Warm, wise, alternately painful and funny, I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag is an inspiring memoir of survival, renewal, and transformation. It’s a tale about learning to let go and be happy after years of faking it, proving that while we can’t always control what happens to us, we can control who we become. And instead of anticipating our present in a goodie bag at the end of an event, we realize our presence at every event is the real gift.

Jennifer Gilbert’s website

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Giveaway ends: July 10, 2013 at 6pm EDT

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
  • Author:  Jennifer Gilbert
  • Genre:  Memoir
  • Published:  May 2012 – HarperCollins
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag is a compelling memoir that begins with a young woman just starting out in life. College is behind her and she’s ready to get out in the world and make her way. But before she can even start, a horrible event changes everything.

In May of 1991 Jennifer went into Manhattan to visit a friend and got off the subway at the wrong stop. She didn’t know someone was following her as she walked to her friend’s apartment. She was followed into the apartment building and then brutally attacked.

Jennifer Gilbert tells her story of how she climbed out of the depths of despair following the attack. It’s a journey that moved back and forth in terms of progress until she finally realized she needed to get her life going again – to not let the attacker win. She interviewed for jobs and was hired by an event-planning company. She threw herself into her job and found that not only was she good at it, she loved it. Jennifer eventually started her own company Save the Date. Over the years she dealt with trust, control issues, an eating disorder – all related to the attack.

I was glad that Gilbert’s story is not a perfect plan for surviving a horrific event. It’s a very personal account of how she made it through with determination and a lot of help from loved ones and professionals. I appreciated her honesty of how she continues to deal with life’s unplanned events. I Never Promised You A Goodie Bag is a truly inspirational memoir.