Bitter or Better earned the 2015 Midwest Book Award for Inspiration

Bitter or Better

Grappling with Life on the Op-Ed Page

From a Baltimore row house to the peaks of Machu Picchu, Bitter or Better transports readers on a jaw-dropping journey that led the author to a transformative choice. Would she succumb to heartache or find her way to joy?

When she joined the Freakin’ Widows Club Caryn Sullivan was well acquainted with adversity. A parade of hardships - divorce, cancer, death, autism – rendered heartache and stress her constant companions.


But losing her husband took her to her knees…until she met a priest whose wise counsel illuminated a choice.

His words – we can be bitter or we can be better –  scripted her next chapter.

With encouragement from international bestselling author Vince Flynn, Caryn, an award-winning columnist, combined her journalistic sensibility with her discerning insight, weaving others’ stories into her own. Recognizing we all grapple with something, Bitter or Better offers a roadmap for a life well lived, bound with a powerful choice – to be better, not bitter.

We Can Be Bitter Or We Can Be Better

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I was captivated by the Foreword of Bitter or Better, and could not put it down. Caryn's spellbinding stories reminded me that some wounds are hard to heal, that forgiveness may be difficult, and that tragedy can change the course of one's life….  Caryn's message will renew your hope, restore your courage, and remind you that your journey can be a great one, if you choose to make it so!

~Rich Chapman

Managing Director, Chartwell Financial Advisory, Inc.

You will laugh and cry with Caryn Sullivan's heartfelt memoir that tells a beautifully articulated story of tenacity, resilience, and life's often bitter curve balls. Bitter or Better teaches us valuable life lessons and offers amazing tenets we all should live by. This "must read" for any student of medicine offers a perspective we often never see. It is too easy to hide behind the science and forget we all have feelings, failures, triumphs, and regrets.

~Daniel Saltzman

M.D., Ph.D., Pediatric Surgery, University of Minnesota

Caryn has a way of writing that is unlike any other. This raw book gives a glimpse into her world of struggles and life's hurdles. Highly recommended.

~ Megan Hedberg

“Bitter or Better “is a beautifully crafted account of rising from adversity and the healing power of helping others.

~ Julie Jo Severson

I opened the book with the intention of perusing it but couldn't put it down! You've certainly drawn me in with your gripping story and your captivating writing style. 

~ Shelagh Burke

Love the way this author writes. I laughed, cried and marveled at the stories. Everyone should have two copies – one to keep and one to give away.

~ Scott Suddendorf

Anyone that has ever struggled should read this book! Thank you for being an inspiration to help others understand the importance of planning and how it leads to a better life and legacy.

~ Nicole Middendorf

CDFA, CEO, Prosperwell

Not only is the story compelling (and parts of it resonate with me from experience…) it is also the writing that I am so enjoying…   

~ Carole Clark Isakson

Attorney at Law

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Bitter or Better:

Grappling with Life on the Op-Ed Page

Caryn Sullivan