Hungry Hearts: Essays on Courage, Desire, and Belonging - book cover
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  • Publisher : Dial Press Trade Paperback
  • Published : 01 Feb 2022
  • Pages : 208
  • ISBN-10 : 0593229630
  • ISBN-13 : 9780593229637
  • Language : English

Hungry Hearts: Essays on Courage, Desire, and Belonging

Sixteen innovators, creatives, and thought leaders-Austin Channing Brown, Sue Monk Kidd, and Luvvie Ajayi Jones, among others-share intimate stories of uncovering beauty and potential through moments of fear, loss, heartbreak, and uncertainty.

"You'll find kindred spirits in these tales of resilience, transformation, and joy."-Time

Over the course of four years, the traveling love rally called Together Live brought together diverse storytellers for epic evenings of laughter, music, and hard-won wisdom to huge audiences across the country. Well-known womxn (and the occasional man) from all walks of life shared their most vulnerable truths in a radical act of love, paving the way for healing in the face of adversity.

Now, off the stage and on the pages of Hungry Hearts, sixteen of these beloved speakers offer moving, inspiring, deeply personal essays as a reminder that we can heal from grief and that divisions can be repaired. Bozoma Saint John opens herself up to love after loss; Cameron Esposito confronts the limits of self-reliance in the wake of divorce; Ashley C. Ford learns to trust herself for the first time. A heartfelt anthology of transformation, self-discovery, and courage that also includes essays by Luvvie Ajayi Jones, Amena Brown, Austin Channing Brown, Natalie Guerrero, Sue Monk Kidd, Connie Lim (MILCK), Nkosingiphile Mabaso, Jillian Mercado, Priya Parker, Geena Rocero, Michael Trotter and Tanya-Blount Trotter of The War and Treaty, and Maysoon Zayid, Hungry Hearts shows how reconnecting with our own burning, undeniable intuition points us toward our unique purpose and the communities where we most belong.

Editorial Reviews

"Sue Monk Kidd! Ashley C. Ford! Cameron Esposito! Bozoma Saint John! The gang's all here-in this book of essays, 16 writers reflect movingly on all different ways to be in loving relationships. If you are looking for a little bit of gentleness, a warm word from writers you can trust, well, here it is."-Glamour

"This gem of a collection includes deeply personal, restorative, and funny essays by some magical people: Amena Brown . . . on her period playlist, Cameron Esposito on the horrors of fitting in and group fitness, Ashley C. Ford on what can come after heartbreak, Austin Channing Brown on the time the word ‘ambitious' hit differently, Priya Parker on the wisdom of a group and the wisdom of the self, Jillian Mercado on losing and gaining your freedom, Natalie Guerrero on dismantling silence, and more."-goop

"Each essay is infused with sincerity and introspection, creating a connection with readers as the contributors reveal their vulnerabilities with candor and emotion. . . . A cathartic collection with broad appeal."-Kirkus Reviews

Readers Top Reviews

IvansmomLover of sto
This book is just what I needed in my life right now. I loved it! Jennifer Rudolph-Walsh has skillfully woven together a gorgeous expression of human love, grace, and courage. I felt uplifted and inspired to not let my fears and hurt keep me from my joy! Thank you Ms. Rudolph-Walsh for your exquisite timing. I only wish I had been fortunate enough to attend the live experience from which these stories were first shared. I'll be revisiting them for years to come. And I now have all these wonderful new people in my life whose work I can't wait to explore. If your heart could use some nourishment and inspiration don't wait to read this book!
Kindle Elizabeth Tr
It was a good book. One of the cities they mentioned is where I currently live. Which was cool and awesome.
Katina Horton
A must read. These essays will move you, inspire you, and embolden you to walk through the trauma, hardships, and resilience of each and every writer 's story.
Marlene McGuirt
Loved this book of short stories. Perfect book for these times.

Short Excerpt Teaser


Jennifer Rudolph Walsh

If I told you that my parents got divorced when I was nine years old, it would communicate a fact-but it wouldn't help you know me better. What if, instead, I told you this: One morning when I was nine years old, my dad told us we were having a family meeting after school. I was so excited, I could barely breathe. I had never been to a meeting before and it sounded important. Between classes, I asked some friends if they'd ever been to one, and my friend Pamela explained to me that a family meeting is when you decide where you are going on vacation. Wow! I thought. My first vacation! She told me about an amazing ride at Disney World called It's a Small World and sang me the song about a small world with a shared sun, where a smile meant friendship to everyone. It sounded like heaven.

When I got home from school, I found a yellow legal pad and wrote a detailed list of the reasons Disney World was an educational place. I arrived at our family meeting ready to advocate for my choice with all my might. When, instead of calling the meeting to order and asking where we'd like to go on vacation, my parents calmly sat down and told my siblings and me that they were getting divorced, my mind went blank. All I can remember now is how desperately I hugged the legal pad to my chest, wishing I could make it disappear. I had never been so wrong about something so big. That moment was a tectonic shift not only in my understanding of my family, but in the way I trusted myself and the world. What else did I think was permanent that might change in an instant? How else was my innocence leaving me exposed to pain and confusion? I can still feel the legal pad's solid edges pressing into my hands-the physical, almost shameful evidence of a world I no longer inhabited and never would again.

I expose my vulnerability by telling you about my Disney World list instead of just saying "When I was nine my parents got divorced" because I want to share more of myself-my history, my soul, my heart. And I believe that sharing my full humanity honors you, in your full humanity. After a lifetime of listening and thirty years working as a literary agent, professionally midwifing thousands of people's stories, I've learned firsthand that bravely sharing our truth and encouraging others to share theirs creates a type of magic that has the power to heal and connect us more deeply to one another.

Sharing our authentic stories can be transformational. Someone may look very different from us on the outside, but what our true stories reveal is that, on the inside, we have all experienced similar feelings of heartbreak, failure, betrayal, longing, triumph, and joy. We all want the same things-to be loved, to be seen, and to belong. We all have dreams that our lives will make a difference. Our stories illustrate that.

It's all too easy to compare our insides to other people's outsides, imagining some version of a perfect life others are living, while we are left with our imperfect ones. In that disconnect between our perception and reality is a void where loneliness, anxiety, and depression often grow. But there is an antidote-one we all have access to. Sharing the real stories of our hearts, our vulnerable and hungry hearts, allows us to connect to others-insides to insides. When someone hears our story, we feel seen, we know we matter, and we instantly realize we're not alone. That's why I call it magic. Because it is.

My purpose has always been to amplify people's voices, to build a giant megaphone for people to be heard far and wide. "This book will change everything" is something I have said and meant too many times to count. Great books are like that-totally transformational. I cannot imagine where I would be had I not been found-like a search and rescue team locating me on a snowy mountain-by books. Growing up, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Maxine Hong Kingston were my most impactful teachers. Finding me in my lonely teenage bedroom, they shined a light, gave me words for my own experience, and made me feel I belonged. It made perfect sense that I would want to spend my adult life as close to books and their authors as possible.

After two decades as the leader of the literary division of a major global talent agency, representing and advocating for the most amazing, courageous, trailblazing, and luminous authors on the planet, selling their books to publishers and filmmakers and bringing their words into the world, living my dream come true every day, something unexpected happened: my dream evolved.

Authors write in solitude and we read in solitude. I've always loved that-but I found myself starting t...