Reviews - What do customers think about The Other Woman at the Well?
The Flip Side Of A Trendy Addiction Jul 23, 2007
Cocaine was the glamorous drug of the 80's. It was passed around freely at parties and trendy yuppie professionals including doctor's and lawyers used it because of the fallacy that cocaine was not addictive. Judith Hillard does a brilliant job of dispelling that myth. As you spiral downward with her in her addiction, it is nothing short of a miracle that she lived to tell her story. This is a story of hope and redemption, that there is no such thing as a "lost cause". Love may not conquer all, but Judith's book proves that without it, we cannot survive. I'm not a religious person (which she is), but I do believe in miracles and the fact that after what she went through and lived to tell her story is nothing short of miraculous. Anyone who has ever grappled with addiction, be it drugs, alcohol, or gambling will find hope and faith in this book.
Confession of a Bad Reader May 23, 2007
I received my copy of Judith's book in the middle of the single most grueling semester that I've ever experienced, my teaching load and my course overload compounded by every influenza and stomach virus that came through my classroom, my wife's, and my son's daycare classroom. By the time I started rereading the beginning, it had been staring at me from my office's bookshelf for three months.
I've never been really close to anyone addicted to cocaine. My experiences have always been secondhand, knowing people whose lives fell apart on account of a drug they'd never taken into their own bodies. As I made my way through Judith's chapters on her switch from inhaled to injected cocaine, my imagination went not to her own experience but to those around her, coworkers and family. Even as I read about her deteriorating body, I hated her.
Because I'm an English teacher and Judith is a former English teacher, my mind forged parallels throughout between the story of the cocaine-addict English teacher and John Milton's Satan. (No, I didn't read this book very sympathetically, and I don't think, knowing the Judith of the book, that she would mind that so much.) When he's at the height of his empty confidence, giving nonsense rallying speeches to the demons in Hell, Satan is almost a comic figure. I know what he's going to do to humanity, but already knowing that, I can enjoy the utter stupidity of watching him and his cronies grandstand about a fight that they never had a chance of winning and a plot that can only destroy them. The moment when I really hate Satan is when he stands on the border of Earth and Heaven and addresses the sun. In that moment, alone and unseen, save by the reader, Satan utters a confession to the chief of the visible sky. He admits knowing that his pursuit is futile and can only bring ruin, never benefit, to anyone in the universe. He admits that with a simple decision to submit to the Father and the Son, he could once again join the harmony of God's creation. He admits that to continue on his course has absolutely no merit. But he refuses to change. His speech ends with one of the most nauseating lines in Milton: "Evil, be thou my good."
Because I've always looked from the outside at drug addiction, and because I looked from the outside in on Judith's, her letters to the people who love her brought forth the most visceral reaction as I read. As she begged forgiveness of her students, her friends, her parents, I never really felt any twinge of sympathy with the former English teacher, and as she confessed her addiction through these letters, knowing full well that she would be seeking out more cocaine when she finished writing, I could not help but to hate.
Of course, Milton's Satan is easy to hate. When I turn my gaze on myself, when I consider my own reading experience as my experience, I realize that Judith is less like Satan and more like the parabolic Prodigal Son. And I realize that my own hate lies not outside the story but within another character, the older brother. And I realize that his hatred never really came into play when the prodigal was wasting his life away; it came in the moment of forgiveness. And I realized that I despised her injury to her parents and friends and students less than I despised the fact that she came out of rehab straight into a lucrative teaching gig, while I labor away, drug-free, in the basement of a university English department for less than I made working as an electrician's apprentice. I realize that my sin is not hatred at all but envy, wishing that she were as miserable as I try to make myself.
Of course, such a recognition is not alien to us English teachers. In Flannery O'Connor's stories, the ones with the wonderful wretches who think they're virtuous, a moment comes when God reveals just how nasty virtue can be. (O'Connor is subtle enough not to use visions in the clouds most of the time, but a good reader knows it's God talking.) As I wound down Judith's book, my epiphany came when I realized that Judith, right now, is at least sixteen years my senior.
That moment of math brought my own wretchedness home to me: I am decidedly not her older brother. Instead, I'm a third sibling, waiting offstage in the Parabolic Repertory Theater, about to live the years that decide whether I'll be prodigal or not. This book is not a Satanic tale for my judgment but a warning for my instruction. I have little fear that I'll become a cocaine addict, but I imagine that the thirty-year-old Judith Hillard thought the same. Moreover, I imagine that such poisonous thoughts that made my reading so bitter came rather naturally to Judith before the book started. Perhaps not. Perhaps, ultimately, I'm Milton's Satan, looking in on her redemption, hissing snake-like as I hate the goodness that God has given her even after she fell.
Perhaps I'm a warthog from Hell.
Drink from the well of The Other Woman Mar 14, 2007
In spite of knowing better, I had to stop and remind myself repeatedly that this woman is no longer submerged in the agony she so vividly describes. The story is sad and sobering, though Judith is quite articulate and possesses a playful literary flair. The relentless need to write--even throughout her addiction and recovery--has supplied the raw material from which she draws frightening glimpses into her drug induced insanity. She weaves them into credible (incredible!) vignettes that give you a sense of her desperation and helplessness. That she survived to tell her story is miracle enough. That she tells it so openly and poignantly is remarkable. Judith Ann has much to offer any who would drink from the well of her experience. The woman at the well of Sychar believed in Jesus and discovered within herself a spring of eternal life. The Other Woman at the Well also discovered Life. Well done Jude, my friend.
HOPE THROUGH MIRACLES Jan 30, 2007
Judith, this book was a real eye opener to your suffering and pain of your addiction. I had no idea the pain that you and your family/friends have gone through and in some ways I am glad. The way you put your hand to paper (or computer) was truly like a song. Very well written but that is not a surpirse. You took the readers to places that exist under our very nose and led us out with charm, dignity and Grace (Olivia). Hopefully this story will inspire others with addictions to believe in Hope through Miracles. Keep up the sobriety.
WOW! What a story... Jan 18, 2007
I'd have to say that this book is definitely an eye opener into the world of drugs and where you do not want anyone you know to be including your kids, family members, friends, yourself, or even your enemies. Judith did a great job telling the readers her incredible story and the way she triumphed. In her doing so, you could feel her pain. Enough to never want to go there yourself, and if you have or are, then this book should help you out. Jaime Bradford Arizona