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Red hot memoir of the week: I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert

Every so often we invite you to meet a fascinating new person by reading a buzz-worthy memoir or biography.

i never promised you a goodie bagIn May 1991, a happy, easygoing 22-year-old New York City woman was accosted by a stranger, stabbed more than 30 times with a screwdriver and left for dead. Jennifer Gilbert, however, didn’t die and for years didn’t share her story with anyone, not wanting to be known as “that girl who was attacked.” One of her biggest fears was forever being defined as a victim. As a result, she worked hard, stayed focused and refused to think about the past.

In fact, Jennifer built a high-profile and very successful event-planning company called Save the Date. But the decades since her attack were not all about wrapping party favors, fixing ill-fitting wedding gowns and pinning down dance bands. Jennifer also had to beat back the fear and insecurity that threatened to overtake her whenever she had “one of her bad days.” She did this by immersing herself in other people’s happiness, one event at a time. Only in retrospect did Jennifer realize how her career was instrumental in her healing process.

Before she could find a safe haven, however, she had to face her attacker in court, deal with insensitive comments from well-meaning friends, talk to therapists and relearn how to stand on her own.

I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag is much more than the moving story of how Jennifer finally found joy. It is also an insider’s look at brides gone crazy and events on the brink of disaster. And as the cap on her eventual contentment, Jennifer talks about her experiences as a wife and mother and how her family helped her concentrate on the positives and let go of the negatives. She ends her memoir with the principal lesson she learned in the years since she almost died — “You can’t control what may happen to you in this life, but you can control who you want to be after it happens.”

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