Honest, humorous, poignant, and raw with emotion…

Judy Kowalsky’s life is filled with alcoholism, suicide, and tragic loss. As an adult, the author encounters more heartbreaking catastrophes before realizing that she has spent a lifetime
meeting the same personalities, experiencing challenging emotional years of learned behaviors and actions that go well beyond childhood.

Maybe you will see yourself in her recollections. Maybe you will see someone you know in them, but the author asks: What will you do when you look into the eyes of an innocent child whose
potential for abuse is imminent?

"The Art of Bristle is a book about one woman's journey to find herself after years of a painful life. A painful life is often found, but never shared. Thankfully, Judy Kowalsky is ready to share. Her book is full of honesty, acceptance of being an adult child of an alcoholic, pain, loss, and grief in her life. However, it is not just about her but includes all who identify with her. I strongly recommend her book. As you read it you will realize that it teaches and touches your heart. Judy's heart is in this book."
~Robert J. Ackerman, PhD, Author of Perfect Daughters, Adult Daughters of Alcoholics, and Co-founder of the National Association for Children of Addiction


Judy Kowalsky wants to live in a world that is free from child abuse. If she owned the world, it would be mandatory that every child be deeply loved and respected, because it is their God-given right. Children would grow up into well-adjusted adults and generation after generation of these loved individuals would make the universe a much better place to live. She believes love is what should run the world, and that every one of us is beautifully created with our own irreplaceable qualities.

She’s lived through physical and emotional abuse, along with other unique challenges like having whittled popsicle stick wood in her mouth, replacements for her missing teeth. She learned to survive, but many don’t.

Judy is an advocate for child abuse awareness, she remains a steadfast voice for those who are often unheard. She enjoys writing and quality time with her grandbabies and her husband, Ray. Judy also finds joy in decorating and redecorating her modern Queen Anne Farmhouse in Middle Tennessee. When not engaged in household pursuits, she can often be found immersed in a good book, while curled up in her favorite comfy overstuffed chair.

Praise for The Art of Bristle:

"Many of us spend adulthood processing childhood, developmentally stuck at points of trauma, often feeling isolated and different until we find healing. Through sharing her pain, Judy’s path toward regeneration gifts others with the knowledge that we are not alone. The Art of Bristle, like Judy, is authentic, gently written by an empathic, faithful soul who found a way out of darkness, fear and anger borne through cruelty and judgement.

Judy’s memories, while beautifully penned, send one back to the safety and innocence of childhood and then step repeatedly outside of inviolability. Judy artfully paints pictures of her life, relating struggles of growing up too soon, bearing misplaced blame, becoming an actress portraying normalcy, developing survival skills, establishing boundaries, accepting that sometimes there are no answers and ultimately embracing self-acceptance and forgiveness.

Those who practice in any medical or mental health clinic setting should read The Art of Bristle to understand better who sits in the chair across from them. Those who have experienced abuse, and its sequelae will hopefully realize that we are blameless, that we are and always have been more than adequate, and that we are neither too much, nor too little. We are intelligent, we are kind; we are enough; we love, and we are loved.

I knew Judy in high school, a sweet, quiet girl with a beautiful smile who hid her pain well, as I did mine. We didn’t talk about abuse back then and hid our bruises. Hopefully, this book will contribute to effecting change, beginning dialogues, reducing stigma, and encouraging the acceptance and promotion of people seeking help." ~ Dr. Sherry Lynn Jones, EdD, RN, MS, Author of Confessions of a Trauma Junkie and More Confessions of a Trauma Junkie

The Art of Bristle in the news:

Interview on The Pedophile Huntress.

Discussion on The Pedophile Huntress.

Interview on The Rumpus

Guest on The Only One in the Room Podcast with Laura Cathcart Robbins

Guest on Coffee, Grief, and Gratitude Podcast with Anne Gudger

Guest on Let's Talk Memoir Podcast with Ronit Blank

Also by Ann Batchelder:

Essay on HuffPost

Essay on The Bucket (Subscription Required)


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Purchase at Bookshop.org here.

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Purchase the Kobo version here.