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“In her tender and genuinely beautiful memoir, Kelle Hampton encourages us to not simply accept the unexpected circumstances of our lives, but to embrace them like the things we wished for all along.” —Matthew Logelin, New York Times bestselling author of Two Kisses for Maddy Bloom is an inspiring and heartfelt memoir that celebrates the beauty found in the unexpected, the s “In her tender and genuinely beautiful memoir, Kelle Hampton encourages us to not simply accept the unexpected circumstances of our lives, but to embrace them like the things we wished for all along.” —Matthew Logelin, New York Times bestselling author of Two Kisses for Maddy Bloom is an inspiring and heartfelt memoir that celebrates the beauty found in the unexpected, the strength of a mother’s love, and, ultimately, the amazing power of perspective. The author of the popular blog Enjoying the Small Things—named The Bump’s Best Special Needs Blog and The Blog You’ve Learned the Most From in the 2010 BlogLuxe Awards—Kelle Hampton interweaves lyrical prose and stunning four-color photography as she recounts the unforgettable story of the first year in the life of her daughter Nella, who has Down syndrome. Poignant, eye-opening, and heart-soaring, Hampton’s Bloom is ultimately about embracing life and really living it.


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“In her tender and genuinely beautiful memoir, Kelle Hampton encourages us to not simply accept the unexpected circumstances of our lives, but to embrace them like the things we wished for all along.” —Matthew Logelin, New York Times bestselling author of Two Kisses for Maddy Bloom is an inspiring and heartfelt memoir that celebrates the beauty found in the unexpected, the s “In her tender and genuinely beautiful memoir, Kelle Hampton encourages us to not simply accept the unexpected circumstances of our lives, but to embrace them like the things we wished for all along.” —Matthew Logelin, New York Times bestselling author of Two Kisses for Maddy Bloom is an inspiring and heartfelt memoir that celebrates the beauty found in the unexpected, the strength of a mother’s love, and, ultimately, the amazing power of perspective. The author of the popular blog Enjoying the Small Things—named The Bump’s Best Special Needs Blog and The Blog You’ve Learned the Most From in the 2010 BlogLuxe Awards—Kelle Hampton interweaves lyrical prose and stunning four-color photography as she recounts the unforgettable story of the first year in the life of her daughter Nella, who has Down syndrome. Poignant, eye-opening, and heart-soaring, Hampton’s Bloom is ultimately about embracing life and really living it.

30 review for Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected--A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ciara

    this one got an extra star for the nice photography & for the author's heartwrenching honesty about meeting her daughter. being a mom, i recognize that it can't have been easy to admit how devastated she was to learn upon birth that her daughter had down syndrome. & indeed most of the people that are marking the book down are doing so because they are disgusted with hampton's initial attitude (she claims that she sobbed all night & thought things like that she'd wasted a beautiful name on a dama this one got an extra star for the nice photography & for the author's heartwrenching honesty about meeting her daughter. being a mom, i recognize that it can't have been easy to admit how devastated she was to learn upon birth that her daughter had down syndrome. & indeed most of the people that are marking the book down are doing so because they are disgusted with hampton's initial attitude (she claims that she sobbed all night & thought things like that she'd wasted a beautiful name on a damaged baby or that she wouldn't be able to use the pink silk baby book she'd splurged on for a baby with down syndrome). it's hard for any parent to imagine thinking that way about their child, but i think, if you're writing a memoir about how you came to terms with difficult & upsetting news, it would be pretty disingenuous not to admit to being upset, you know? that said, i did not care for this book. i read the whole thing, hoping that it would take shape & start to get better, but honestly, the best-written part was probably the birth story. & it wasn't that well-written. hampton was a mommy blogger & photographer (hence all the lovely photos in this book) who was utterly thrown for a loop when her second daughter was born with down syndrome. she & her husband had declined prenatal genetic testing because they "just knew the baby was perfect". hence the surprise. hampton wrote about her experience on her blog & the story got a lot of attention & attracted some offers of literary representation. so hampton went for it & churned out this memoir. it's obvious that she's not really a writer. she often uses well-known turns of phrase (cliches, one might say, which is a mistake in itself), but bungles them just slightly enough for it to be jarring. like someone who is distracted & tired & doesn't want to make the effort to find the words she really means. that's fine & everything--the timeline suggests that her second baby was barely a year old when hampton wrote this book. she probably was distracted & tired. but it's a book. how many opportunities are you going to have to publish a book? don't you want to go over it & a few times & make sure it's as perfect as you can make it? hampton is also just ridiculously whiny. she goes on & on & ON about how her first daughter had a pernicious case of jaundice & had to be in the hospital receiving light therapy for a few days. not that it's a contest or anything, but my baby was in the hospital for 24 days after she was born. she also had jaundice & received light treatment, & during that time, we were not allowed to hold her. she weighed less than five pounds & was receiving nutrition through a wire strung into her belly. so it was difficult & unpleasant for me to read the incessant whining of this woman who had a fairly healthy infant who just needed a few extra days of basic medical care. & i know women whose babies have been in the NICU for MONTHS, who suffered catastrophic side effects from being born prematurely. it's sad & horrible for any parent to be separated from their newborn for any length of time, but hampton seemed so clueless & disrespectful of people who are in tougher situations than her. the "we knew the baby would be perfect--oops, it's not!" attitude really bothered me too. when i was pregnant, we agonized over doing the genetic testing. would it change anything? would we abort if we got a poor result? i mean, it's one thing if you know you'd have the baby & love it regardless, but hampton declined testing & was then devastated when she got a less-than-perfect baby, & that just wasn't explored at all. it was weird. maybe that's my own bias speaking? most of the new moms i know conceived after fertility treatments (because that was my experience & my support network), so we had a lot of early testing done because we were already under a doctor's care well before conception. maybe i'm just jealous that hamptom felt she could be so breezy & blase about her pregnancy? i don't know. but probably the most annoying thing about this book is the way hamptom talks about "the net". "the net" is her name for her extended network or friends & family--the support system that helped her through her whole experience. she writes about all the friends that came in to stay with her right after her daughter was born, & the friends that accompanied her to down syndrome support groups & conferences, & the friends that came to stay while her husband was out of town or just when she was having a bad day. it's like this woman couldn't stand to be alone with her own thoughts for a single second. in her world, any moment not glorying in how many friends she has & how they will drop anything to be there for her is a moment wasted. i have known people like this. they tend to be people who need to process every tiny little thought they have, & they are really hung up on being popular & well-liked, even though high school is far behind them. they're the kind of people who are less concerned with the quality of their relationships than the quantity. & when the smallest crisis happens, they fall apart completely because they have never had to build any emotional resources for themselves. they just take support from others. this entire book is essentially a testament to hampton's conviction that it's awesome not to have any internal emotional reserves & to drain others of their support & compassion. she goes on & on & on about how she's not in denial about her daughter's situation & everything will work out great because she has the power of her "net" behind her, but i saw very few instances of her really giving back. every chapter was just more & more taking. i'm sure hampton is fun to hang out with for a while--she'll take cute photos of you & you'll go get pedicures & she'll call you a rockstar & you'll go to the beach. she'll even give you individually wrapped party favors when she has a baby! but where's the substance? maybe that's what it all boils down to. hampton's story, her photographs, & the way she shares it all make for great blog fodder. everything is bright & happy & pretty & personal affirmation-y. but i wanted something more from a book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    I have to say I was disappointed when I realized that this book was written by the same author as the over- the-top birth blog I have seen on the internet in the past, and included even more of the staged, professionally shot yet supposedly candid photos of the entire birth experience. ("I cried all night and writhed in pain at the thought of my child having Down syndrome, calling out to friends to save me and sobbing uncontrollably so that when I awakened, my face was so swollen I looked like a I have to say I was disappointed when I realized that this book was written by the same author as the over- the-top birth blog I have seen on the internet in the past, and included even more of the staged, professionally shot yet supposedly candid photos of the entire birth experience. ("I cried all night and writhed in pain at the thought of my child having Down syndrome, calling out to friends to save me and sobbing uncontrollably so that when I awakened, my face was so swollen I looked like a prize fighter with slits for eyes" accompanied by an artsy black and white photo capturing that morning where Kelle is perfectly made up with perfectly styled hair and not a bit of swelling to be seen as she gazes at her newborn in soft focus.) Kelle is just "too". Too happy, too sad, too many friends at the birth, too dramatic, too perfectly coiffed at all times, too photographed, too... I wanted to like this book but just didn't.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marnie

    Knowing nothing of Kelle Hampton before reading Bloom, I got the sense that she's lead a very happy existence with everything always as close to perfection as it could be. Perfect clothes, perfect hair, perfect parties thrown with a theme with even the minute details falling within said theme, a huge circle of perfectly fabulous friends. Basically, it sounds like she's lived much of her life in a wonderfully close and fun sorority. She even calls babies littles in her book. Fast-forward to the bi Knowing nothing of Kelle Hampton before reading Bloom, I got the sense that she's lead a very happy existence with everything always as close to perfection as it could be. Perfect clothes, perfect hair, perfect parties thrown with a theme with even the minute details falling within said theme, a huge circle of perfectly fabulous friends. Basically, it sounds like she's lived much of her life in a wonderfully close and fun sorority. She even calls babies littles in her book. Fast-forward to the birth of her second baby. She is so excited for baby #2, getting a photographer for the occasion, having pre-made decorations like champagne glasses with Nella's name for the after delivery toast, a welcome home sign for Nella, and other things. I actually love how excited she was for the birth of #2, as it seems like people only "accept" such fanfare for #1. So while a bit over the top compared to anything I would do even for #1, I love how she approached it as such a celebration. So when Nella is born, Kelle reveals how hard it is for her to deal with the unexpected diagnosis that Nella has Down syndrome. I appreciate her raw, aching honesty, as so many times in life, you're expected to smile and be politically correct. Life as Kelle had known it changed. Acknowledging that, mourning the loss of what she thought would be, and changing her notion of perfection sounds like a pretty strong and healthy trajectory to me. She's gotten criticism for being so self-involved and making this story about her. It's a memoir. I think that's the point of it. The dedication of the book is to her first-born, Lainey, who taught her how to love. I love that. Seeing the world through the eyes of an innocent, non-judgmental child would be a smart thing for all of us to do from time to time. We could all learn from that pureness. People have said that they're disgusted with Kelle's initial sadness and disappointment, which shocks me. How can you judge someone's personal story? She wrestles with the guilt she feels for not being 100% overjoyed those first few days of Nella's life. To me, this is such a hopeful story and one that makes you smile through the tears. Hearing that your child has any sort of birth defect or condition that could shorten her life or compromise her quality of life is a really tough pill to swallow. As a mother, you want life to be the best for your kids. So I understand the reaction. And I would bet that she's not the only one who was heartbroken upon hearing that her child is not exactly what she envisioned. She learned a lot over the first year of Nella's life, and in my personal opinion, her attitude and her approach is nothing but honest (albeit with too many metaphors, but hey). And where can I get such a close group of 30 girlfriends?!? Her support system is enviable. At many points in the book, she talks about how grateful she is and how much each of her friends truly cared, loved, shared. "...the richness of life is often found in the less glorious imperfection of experiences that are interesting and soul transforming." "...if you look in the right places, you will find that the world is filled with so much kindness."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jonna Rubin

    I am not the kind of person who would usually pick up this book. I am cynical, crabby, never read blogger books and generally find people who are shiny, happy and throw parties like Kelle Hampton to be . . . not my kind of people. Except. Kelle is my kind of people. If you glance at Kelle's blog, it's easy to write her off as a lifestyle blogger, with her perfect Christmas parties (REINDEER GLITTER, FOR GOD'S SAKE) and adorable fashion sense and gorgeous, gorgeous pictures. The thing is, however I am not the kind of person who would usually pick up this book. I am cynical, crabby, never read blogger books and generally find people who are shiny, happy and throw parties like Kelle Hampton to be . . . not my kind of people. Except. Kelle is my kind of people. If you glance at Kelle's blog, it's easy to write her off as a lifestyle blogger, with her perfect Christmas parties (REINDEER GLITTER, FOR GOD'S SAKE) and adorable fashion sense and gorgeous, gorgeous pictures. The thing is, however, she's not trying to sell you on anything, it's just how she IS, and she does all of it without an ounce of pretense. Despite her penchant for over-the-top everything, I remain convinced that if I invited Kelle to my house to have store-bought cupcakes on cheap Target plates, she'd still think it was grand and wouldn't even notice my dirty countertops. Are people laughing and having a good time? Then she's cool. She swears. She drinks too many Coronas with limes. She has a story about getting wasted and going skinny dipping and realizing later that surely she walked home naked. Her house is littered with laundry and she makes inappropriate jokes. She was in such denial about facing her daughter's long-term diagnosis that she spent a $100 gift card meant for research on magazines and lattes. How can you not love a person who not only does those things, but readily admits to them? My point is, she's a real person, and Bloom, despite its primary focus on her special needs' daughter, Nella, is a stunning look at what it's like coming to terms with the birth of her daughter, and so much more -- it's a wonderful portrait of a real, honest person who takes a hard look at herself, her life, and everything in it and just owns the SHIT out of it. And because of the blog post about the birth of her daughter that launched all of this, you expect her to own the hard stuff, but what is unexpected, and what makes this book (and her) so awesome, is that she owns the good stuff. When she first learns she's pregnant with Nella, she fully admits to wearing a dress that makes her look pregnant because she WANTS the attention, and she wants the experience to start as soon as possible. She admits, too, to wanting to make her life as grand as it can be for her girls because it's all she ever wanted for her life --- not champagne Wednesdays and twee thrifting trips for show and blog fodder, but because that's the kind of thing that genuinely makes her happy and she's unapologetic about it. I'm not explaining this well, but as I read the book, I not only realized that life really is what you make of it, no matter the hardships, but is also about figuring out who you are, what you want and not being too cool to just go for it in a really big way, without worrying for a second what it looks like to other people. Does it look good to you? Then do it. Thus endeth the most uncharacteristic review ever. But dude, I loved it. You should read it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    I won this in a Goodreads giveaway and want to start off by saying this is one of the prettiest books ever. When I got it in the mail last night I was petting the pages and enjoying the gorgeous pictures, when I saw a picture of a woman with champagne glasses being toasted in front of her wearing a face that screamed of her numbness. It was then that it hit me that I had seen that picture before, that picture had brought me to tears before. I've been a lazy blog reader for the last year or so an I won this in a Goodreads giveaway and want to start off by saying this is one of the prettiest books ever. When I got it in the mail last night I was petting the pages and enjoying the gorgeous pictures, when I saw a picture of a woman with champagne glasses being toasted in front of her wearing a face that screamed of her numbness. It was then that it hit me that I had seen that picture before, that picture had brought me to tears before. I've been a lazy blog reader for the last year or so and had assumed I had stumbled across Kelle's blog at some point, but didn't realize which one it was. The second I saw that picture I remembered her birth story, which is the start of the book. It is quite possibly one of the most heart wrenching stories ever and I was even more excited to read this book. I was already excited because it sounded amazing, but between making the connection that I knew this blog and the gorgeousness of the book I was ready to get reading. I started and finished the book today and really enjoyed the story of Kelle's first year with Nelle. The transformation gave me the warm fuzzies. For someone to start off at such a low place, grow, change and overcome is really inspiring. It's a book about change, love, friendships and dealing with the unexpected. Life doesn't always dish out what we expect or have planned, but Kelle's story shows that you can move forward and plow through life's challenges and come out a better person on the other side.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Kelle Hampton is presented with the remarkable gift of parenting a child with Down Syndrome, yet from the moment Nella is born it is all about appearances and her perfect world. Her disappointment made me sick to my stomach. And though I don't know what it's like for a minute to walk the path of a parent with a child that has special needs, so it's hard to pass judgement on her. But for someone who has a full makeup and hair during labor and delivery...well that says it all! And I appreciate her Kelle Hampton is presented with the remarkable gift of parenting a child with Down Syndrome, yet from the moment Nella is born it is all about appearances and her perfect world. Her disappointment made me sick to my stomach. And though I don't know what it's like for a minute to walk the path of a parent with a child that has special needs, so it's hard to pass judgement on her. But for someone who has a full makeup and hair during labor and delivery...well that says it all! And I appreciate her coming to terms with things but she seems just so dramatic and full of herself. Mrs. Hampton, I have a friend who has little boy with DS. If I asked her to write a memoir about her experience with him I am sure it would go something like this....this is what God gave me, this wonderful gift, this perfect and healthy little boy who has enhanced my life every day. She has NEVER been embarrassed about his appearance or what the other kids would say and it shows in how well adjusted and mannered this little one it. I remember her telling me a story about a woman who asked her if she wished things were normal. She simply replied, this is my normal! I wish this book took more of that approach and even dealt with the struggles that Nella faced, not so much the self centered nature of the perfect looking author!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I hated this book. I hated it less by the end, but hated it nevertheless. Hampton writes about her "trials" of unexpectedly becoming the mother of a down syndrome child. To me, the whole book was more of a "poor me" approach by Hampton than a guide for other parents in the same boat. It seriously came across to me that she was absolutely stunned to be given anything but a perfect child. I in no way mean to discount the fear and devastation that I'm sure parents feel in this type of situation; ho I hated this book. I hated it less by the end, but hated it nevertheless. Hampton writes about her "trials" of unexpectedly becoming the mother of a down syndrome child. To me, the whole book was more of a "poor me" approach by Hampton than a guide for other parents in the same boat. It seriously came across to me that she was absolutely stunned to be given anything but a perfect child. I in no way mean to discount the fear and devastation that I'm sure parents feel in this type of situation; however, being a 40-year-old woman who tried unsuccessfully to conceive for over 10 years and also tried to unsuccessfully foster and adopt an infant who had been abused, I really struggle with women who, for whatever reason, are not happy with any child that they have been blessed with. I worked extensively with down syndrome children in college, and they are some of the most loving, happy, beautiful children on the earth. That is not to say they're not without their challenges, but what child isn't? I feel that Hampton could have approached this book in a much more positive manner. Less drama on her part, and more about the avenues that are open for parents who are blessed with a child with a disability.

  8. 5 out of 5

    LeAndra

    I expected this book to be a memoir about what it is like to raise a special-needs child. Instead, it was a memoir about accepting being a mother to a special-needs child. I don't doubt the author has a good heart, but her voice came across as shallow and selfish. The only thing that bumped my rating from one to two stars is the author's fairly regular admittance that she is/was selfish and cares/cared too much about what other people think. I lived in Fort Myers for a while, and I would describ I expected this book to be a memoir about what it is like to raise a special-needs child. Instead, it was a memoir about accepting being a mother to a special-needs child. I don't doubt the author has a good heart, but her voice came across as shallow and selfish. The only thing that bumped my rating from one to two stars is the author's fairly regular admittance that she is/was selfish and cares/cared too much about what other people think. I lived in Fort Myers for a while, and I would describe the culture there as fairly shallow. Perhaps the author, who lives in Naples, was simply caught up in that culture. That is understandable, but I wanted more from this book. I wanted it to be gritty and real, and it was just, well...kind of shallow. As someone with no children, I'd love to hear what a mother has to say after reading this book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Liz DeMar

    There is a lot of good in this book: good attitudes and outlooks, a good support system, a very strong attempt to normalize Down syndrome. There is also about this story that strikes as unrealistic and shallow. Frankly, Kelle has had a tremendously easy experience compared to many of us. In fact as I read her story, I felt jealous. More than once I wondered how someone could write a whole book over something that, from my perspective, seems kind of trivial. Kelle doesn't help this perception; sh There is a lot of good in this book: good attitudes and outlooks, a good support system, a very strong attempt to normalize Down syndrome. There is also about this story that strikes as unrealistic and shallow. Frankly, Kelle has had a tremendously easy experience compared to many of us. In fact as I read her story, I felt jealous. More than once I wondered how someone could write a whole book over something that, from my perspective, seems kind of trivial. Kelle doesn't help this perception; she is so careful to maintain positivity that she never delves into what challenges Nella has experienced. There is something that strikes as either phony or a huge oversight: Kelle is tremendously introspective about her feelings and her experience... but she's never willing to discuss much about Nella in particular. I get it, I very well understand the positivity and the attempt to normalize. But I think there is more power in transparency and deliberately dealing with and rising above the difficult circumstances that come along with a genetic diagnosis. I couldn't help but wonder how Kelle would have handled a baby who needed oxygen, who needed a feeding tube, etc. Maybe it would have been just fine after she figured out how to bedazzle medical equipment. Who knows. I know firsthand that an unexpected diagnosis is a big thing to deal with. But when that is all there is to the story, the story falls flat. A person relatively ignorant of genetics may enjoy this book. As someone who has walked this road and who also believes in positivity and normalization, I have to say that overall I found it difficult to relate much to this account. It probably didn't help that Kelle continually refers to herself as a "rockstar."

  10. 5 out of 5

    icarranna

    I'd debated between 2 and 3 stars but after hovering over Goodreads' star ratings and saw that a 2 was "it was ok" and a 3 was "I liked it" I had to go with a 2. I read Nella's Birth Story and started reading Kelle Hampton's blog a few years ago. I eventually stopped following the blog because I found the more "commercial" the blog became, the less authentic it felt. I read this book because it was selected for my book club. I read a lot of the reviews, particularly the negative ones, and then th I'd debated between 2 and 3 stars but after hovering over Goodreads' star ratings and saw that a 2 was "it was ok" and a 3 was "I liked it" I had to go with a 2. I read Nella's Birth Story and started reading Kelle Hampton's blog a few years ago. I eventually stopped following the blog because I found the more "commercial" the blog became, the less authentic it felt. I read this book because it was selected for my book club. I read a lot of the reviews, particularly the negative ones, and then the comments back to the negative reviews saying "Don't judge Kelle, you can't know what she went through unless you have a child with special needs." And while that is true, and I am not able to relate on that level, I still feel that when you publish, you put yourself out there to receive critique. But I'll try to approach this as best I can without really judging Kelle the person and more of the book itself. Because even though I didn't care much for it (other than the beautiful photos), I have a lot to say about it. Kelle wavers between writing that is laced with too many superlatives to a very casual blog-style writing. The book was an easy, quick read but nothing special in terms of writing or being memorable (other than Nella's Birth Story at the beginning). There were no moments that I found overly profound - just her recounting her story. It lacked a lot of substance; just her rambling on and on about coming to terms with her daughter's Down Syndrome. I couldn't believe when I was over halfway through the book and we still hadn't left the hospital yet in the story. I also will comment (and yes, judge) that is IS very commercial, like her blog. It is written for an audience, and feels fake at times. Either that, or Kelle Hampton is probably an exhausting person to be around in real life. I've read other memoirs that are authentic: where you embrace what the author is saying, and even if you haven't experienced it, you can FEEL it. I felt nothing here. I felt like I was watching a young 30-something woman who is still learning who she is and was thrown something unexpected and decides to (quote her) "rock it out." At one point, if she had used the word "perfect" one more time, I was going to vomit. Thankfully that word receded after awhile. Not an overly inspiring book. There were a few nice moments, but nothing that really tugged at my heart. The photos far outshined the writing and the story.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Christie

    I read/follow Kelle's blog and enjoy it. She is very inspiring and I love her positive approach. She does use some language in the book (which I guess I'm sensitive to since I keep mentioning that in my reviews!). I don't always hold the same views as her, but I can tell you that I look up to her and love how she shares her real feelings going through Nella's birth and finding out she has DS. It saddens me to see such negative comments about her and her book, about how she handled it and about w I read/follow Kelle's blog and enjoy it. She is very inspiring and I love her positive approach. She does use some language in the book (which I guess I'm sensitive to since I keep mentioning that in my reviews!). I don't always hold the same views as her, but I can tell you that I look up to her and love how she shares her real feelings going through Nella's birth and finding out she has DS. It saddens me to see such negative comments about her and her book, about how she handled it and about what a "perfect" life she had and has. Reminded me of the negative reviews on Heaven is Here. It's sad that people feel that because life seemed pretty good for someone during one point in their life, it's ok to be more harsh in judging them. No one can say what they would do in a certain situation unless they've been through it, and even then, no one has the same background and so that changes everything! No one grieves the same because no one IS the same! I think taking the good from this book is exactly what Kelle would do if she were reading it--she would take the good and run with it, even if she didn't agree or like everything in it. She is a great example to me of enjoying the moment and making the most of your time with your children. I love that.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elise

    I am struggling to write this review, but since I've read some of the others, I think I can confidently express my personal thoughts. As a parent of a child with autism (not definitively diagnosed until she was 14 years old, although we have been "in the system" since she was 3), I was initially put off by the grief and despair that Kelle expresses upon learning her daughter is "imperfect." I thought a lot about why I reacted that way and I think it's important to realize that our life experience I am struggling to write this review, but since I've read some of the others, I think I can confidently express my personal thoughts. As a parent of a child with autism (not definitively diagnosed until she was 14 years old, although we have been "in the system" since she was 3), I was initially put off by the grief and despair that Kelle expresses upon learning her daughter is "imperfect." I thought a lot about why I reacted that way and I think it's important to realize that our life experiences shape us. I had already faced the challenges of infertility, which stretched my expectations of my life, so when my own daughter was 2 and things weren't progressing as expected with her, I never saw it as a loss of the child I dreamed of. It was just our current reality - to be dealt with and addressed and handled. I cannot relate to Kelle's total devastation at her reality differing from her expectations. That said, I think every parent of a child with special needs will grieve and not just once, but many times over and over through the years. You grieve not because of the child that isn't, but because it is difficult for any parent to look at their awesome child and see them struggle. So, while I can't relate to her devastation, I also won't judge her for it. I think she expressed herself honestly and clearly by letting her readers into her version of her reality. There is nothing to dislike about her writing style. Where her story challenged me was reading about her Net. She has an expansive network of friends who were all there, ready and willing to support her through this journey. That was mind boggling to me and it is where she forced me to look at myself. What she, as a person, does exceptionally well is let people in to support her. She doesn't assume she can or should handle it all herself. For me, that is a huge challenge. I'm happy to be there for others, but rarely reach out for the support I need for myself. Her ability to share in exquisite and heart wrenching detail how easily she not only asked for but expected and received the support of friends was inspiring. Would I recommend the book? I think it might be especially great for people who don't have children with DS or other special needs to read because any opportunity to create greater understanding and acceptance is a good one. For anyone that has been challenged with infertility, it might be extraordinarily painful because as I know from personal experience, you might want to punch someone who isn't just plain ecstatic about having a baby, period. For those that have special needs children, I think it would really depend. You might appreciate hearing someone admit to the feelings you yourself have felt, but never expressed, or you might, like me, find it disappointing. I only gave this 2 stars because I really didn't feel like I related to the story or the author's voice. It's not a book I would read again, nor would I give it as a gift (my two criteria for recommending books). Still, because it is a memoir, it is hard to judge someone on their own personal story. If you look for a book that is well written, this is a good book. The photos were an added bonus (although, I wonder if the book would have been published, especially with photos, if Kelle and her family weren't all so attractive to begin with). If I think of this book again, it will be with well wishes for the darling girl who has transformed her family from one of perfection to one that can embrace the beauty of imperfection.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I had to stop reading this book about 1/3 through. I tried to keep going, but it was torture. I have a child with Down syndrome. I realize that people have all different reactions to a birth diagnosis. However, Kelle Hampton walked out of the hospital with a perfectly healthy, beautiful baby, and yet her book is one big pity party after another. If I had read one more page about another person walking into the hospital room and sobbing with her, I think I would have thrown up. The title says "fi I had to stop reading this book about 1/3 through. I tried to keep going, but it was torture. I have a child with Down syndrome. I realize that people have all different reactions to a birth diagnosis. However, Kelle Hampton walked out of the hospital with a perfectly healthy, beautiful baby, and yet her book is one big pity party after another. If I had read one more page about another person walking into the hospital room and sobbing with her, I think I would have thrown up. The title says "finding beauty in the unexpected" - I don't know when she got to that, but I didn't read much of anything that supported that part of the title. The bottom line is, I would HATE for someone to think her experience is typical of all or most parents who have a surprise birth diagnosis. It's not.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I reviewed this book here: http://turnthepagelisa.wordpress.com/... I reviewed this book here: http://turnthepagelisa.wordpress.com/...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    I really wanted to love this book. Having worked with children & adults with developmental disabilities, I can relate to the challenges that parents face. But I am not the parent of a child with Down's so maybe I was insensitive while reading the book. My heart broke for Kelle's child. Picture after picture showed this beautiful little baby. Not only beautiful but HEALTHY!!! So many parents don't have a healthy baby when the child is born with Down's. But Kelle went on and on and on about her ch I really wanted to love this book. Having worked with children & adults with developmental disabilities, I can relate to the challenges that parents face. But I am not the parent of a child with Down's so maybe I was insensitive while reading the book. My heart broke for Kelle's child. Picture after picture showed this beautiful little baby. Not only beautiful but HEALTHY!!! So many parents don't have a healthy baby when the child is born with Down's. But Kelle went on and on and on about her child not being what she imagined. Get over it already!! Dry your tears, put your big girl pants on, and love your child!! I found myself really frustrated with Kelle & her friends (for enabling her behavior) throughout the book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Kelle lived a charmed existence, marrying the man of her dreams, having a beautiful baby girl, expecting her second child, surrounded by warm loving family and friends, starting a blog about the joys of being a wife and mother. Then she had her second child and knew something was not right. It did not take long for the doctors to tell her that the baby girl had Down syndrome. It did take a while for Kelle to face and accept this, and it took the help of the warm loving family and friends for her t Kelle lived a charmed existence, marrying the man of her dreams, having a beautiful baby girl, expecting her second child, surrounded by warm loving family and friends, starting a blog about the joys of being a wife and mother. Then she had her second child and knew something was not right. It did not take long for the doctors to tell her that the baby girl had Down syndrome. It did take a while for Kelle to face and accept this, and it took the help of the warm loving family and friends for her to do so. And that is what this book is all about. I'll be frank: Kelle is part of a generation who has grown up to expect life is a series of pages in a lacy scrapbook, so going on and on about facing an event that brings challenges into life might not sit well with those readers who have lived through difficulties like fighting in a war or growing up in poverty in Africa. Kelle's story, first told in her blog to a huge audience, obviously has resonance. I found the book genuinely compelling, told with love, with beautiful photos, taken with love.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy Kannel

    After sitting at my computer in tears reading Kelle Hampton’s account of her daughter’s birth a couple of years ago, I was thrilled to find out that she had published a book. Nella Cordelia was born in January 2010, and she unexpectedly has Down syndrome. Bloom is Kelle’s memoir of the first year of Nella’s life, as she adjusted to a very different mothering experience than she anticipated and learned to delight in her new daughter and her new normal. The book features full-color photos througho After sitting at my computer in tears reading Kelle Hampton’s account of her daughter’s birth a couple of years ago, I was thrilled to find out that she had published a book. Nella Cordelia was born in January 2010, and she unexpectedly has Down syndrome. Bloom is Kelle’s memoir of the first year of Nella’s life, as she adjusted to a very different mothering experience than she anticipated and learned to delight in her new daughter and her new normal. The book features full-color photos throughout, and there was much beauty in the photos and the words, much to find inspiring. Yet ultimately I was disappointed for what I didn’t find in this book: God (or at least the God of the Bible). Instead Kelle refers in passing a few times to a God created in her image, an impotent God who doesn’t do anything Kelle doesn’t like or understand. The book is peppered with profanity and bad theology, and the real heroes of the story are beer and her incredibly enormous posse of girlfriends. I think this quote from page 163 captures the spirit of the book and my disappointment with it: “I could question it, fight it, and surrender to the flag of It’s not fair, or I could learn from it. And I wanted to learn from it. I realized I was the only one who had the power to move on and turn our curveball into a home run, so I did my best to choose my perspective…I wanted to change. I wanted to be better. I wanted to begin a journey of gratitude and growth, and this was the perfect opportunity.” –-So far, so good. I can learn from this! I want to be more like this! But then she continues: “And so I pictured myself, on a hill, fist raised to thundering skies shouting to it all—to God, to the Universe, to Coincidence, to Science—‘I see your challenge. I accept. I accept. I’ll show you how I can do it. You have no idea just how I’m gonna rock this out.’” Ouch. To Kelle, God is not the source of strength and hope, an “ever-present help in time of trouble,” but instead an impersonal force, akin to the generic “Universe,” to whom you shake your fist and prove how great you are. This left me feeling more sad and frustrated than inspired.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Allison Renner

    After reading a review of this book on Jessica's blog, I started reading Kelle's blog from the beginning. I loved her happy attitude, how she put a positive spin on everything, making magic out of everyday life, and how completely she loved her firstborn daughter. The book helped fill in a lot of gaps that the blog didn't cover - like Kelle's childhood, her experiences as a teacher, and how she met her husband. After awhile, though, her optimistic demeanor started to wear on me. I appreciate her After reading a review of this book on Jessica's blog, I started reading Kelle's blog from the beginning. I loved her happy attitude, how she put a positive spin on everything, making magic out of everyday life, and how completely she loved her firstborn daughter. The book helped fill in a lot of gaps that the blog didn't cover - like Kelle's childhood, her experiences as a teacher, and how she met her husband. After awhile, though, her optimistic demeanor started to wear on me. I appreciate her honesty in saying she didn't want her second daughter to have Down syndrome, didn't think she would love her, wanted to run away, etc. I'm sure those are common reactions, and it takes a lot to 'fess up to them, especially knowing they'll be in print (and on the Internet) forever. At the same time, from my limited experience of volunteering with mentally handicapped adults, I thought "How can you feel this is the end of the world?" Nella was healthy and beautiful, what more could you want? I know I wasn't in Kelle's place, and I know she has since grown to love her life, but it was hard to get past that initial feeling, especially with how quickly she bounced back into her perkiness. I appreciate that life is beautiful and should be treated as such, but it's ok to have bad days and 'fess up to those, too.      I still found the book interesting, and am glad I started reading Kelle's blog. The book itself is gorgeous - slightly larger than standard hardcovers, with glossy pages and photographs Kelle herself took scattered throughout. It feels more like looking through a family album than reading a memoir.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    Absolutely the best book I've read in a long time! I found it at Target and picked it up for the photos that are interspersed throughout of the author and her daughter and family. I really didn't read the synopsis and didn't know how much this book would move me when I put it in my shopping cart. Cried tears of heartache, joy, and understanding through out this whole book. I too have a daughter with Down Syndrome and I felt like the author had crawled into my brain and wrote down the thoughts I h Absolutely the best book I've read in a long time! I found it at Target and picked it up for the photos that are interspersed throughout of the author and her daughter and family. I really didn't read the synopsis and didn't know how much this book would move me when I put it in my shopping cart. Cried tears of heartache, joy, and understanding through out this whole book. I too have a daughter with Down Syndrome and I felt like the author had crawled into my brain and wrote down the thoughts I had when my daughter was born and through out her first few years of life. Kelle has inspired me to continue on my track of changing myself through the process of raising a child with special needs. Even though my daughter is now 21, I still experience some of the same feelings Kelle had with her infant daughter. What an impetus for change our daughters can be. My favorite quote in the book "Love me. Love me. I'm not what you expected, but oh, please love me."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cate

    I also have a daughter who has Down syndrome, and I have been following Kelle Hampton's blog since the birth story post. I wanted to love this book, but I just didn't. The book rehashes the diagnosis and aftermath, and while that's interesting, it's not enough to fill almost 300 pages. I also felt that it seemed...forced. She seems really interested in proving that she is at peace with the diagnosis, and it did not always ring true to me. What's that expression, "Show, don't tell?" There's an aw I also have a daughter who has Down syndrome, and I have been following Kelle Hampton's blog since the birth story post. I wanted to love this book, but I just didn't. The book rehashes the diagnosis and aftermath, and while that's interesting, it's not enough to fill almost 300 pages. I also felt that it seemed...forced. She seems really interested in proving that she is at peace with the diagnosis, and it did not always ring true to me. What's that expression, "Show, don't tell?" There's an awful lot of telling, and not so much showing. (Despite all the photos, which are pretty enough but there are way too many of them.) I have a list of books that I recommend to people who want to learn more about Down syndrome, and I'm not going to be putting this one on it. Maybe in a few years she will be able to write a sequel that tells a more complete story.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I found myself liking EVERYONE in the book except the author. To me the passage that sums up the whole book for me is when she calls her brother, who according to her knows her better than anyone, and what does he say FIRST after she tells him her daughter has Down's...."just love her Kel, PLEASE love her." If he felt he had to say that to her that shows more about her true mind set than any other spin she tried to pass off in the book. If you read between the lines and really look at the photos I found myself liking EVERYONE in the book except the author. To me the passage that sums up the whole book for me is when she calls her brother, who according to her knows her better than anyone, and what does he say FIRST after she tells him her daughter has Down's...."just love her Kel, PLEASE love her." If he felt he had to say that to her that shows more about her true mind set than any other spin she tried to pass off in the book. If you read between the lines and really look at the photos you might give this book 1 star too. I don't claim to know the author's heart but I read the book she put out and thanks but no.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    All I could think of as I read this book was the author should get together with Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame - another book I didn't like). Then they can whine together. Maybe whining is the wrong word...this was just too surface. Every once in a while I'd see a glimmer of something that could be a good. But not often. Maybe I'm wrong to compare this memoir with the likes of Joan Didion (The Year of Magical Thinking or in Blue Nights), Roger Rosenblatt (Making Toast), Calvin Trill All I could think of as I read this book was the author should get together with Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame - another book I didn't like). Then they can whine together. Maybe whining is the wrong word...this was just too surface. Every once in a while I'd see a glimmer of something that could be a good. But not often. Maybe I'm wrong to compare this memoir with the likes of Joan Didion (The Year of Magical Thinking or in Blue Nights), Roger Rosenblatt (Making Toast), Calvin Trillin (About Alice). The writing and the emotions conveyed in these books tower above Bloom.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Bookslut

    Well, this touched me very much, and I felt like I had my face pressed to the glass of what our lives could've looked like had everything been different. I am so impressed with the author's brave willingness to give such an unflinching, genuine, honest account of what having this baby was like for her. I was so moved. Now understand, she is no writer, and you know it within sentences. I would never have given it a half chance if I hadn't wanted to live inside her story so much. She is a blogger Well, this touched me very much, and I felt like I had my face pressed to the glass of what our lives could've looked like had everything been different. I am so impressed with the author's brave willingness to give such an unflinching, genuine, honest account of what having this baby was like for her. I was so moved. Now understand, she is no writer, and you know it within sentences. I would never have given it a half chance if I hadn't wanted to live inside her story so much. She is a blogger to the core, and I hate the way those women write--and she's guilty of all of it. It sounds like spoken word recorded, she uses trendy writing tricks like all bloggers do (So. Much. Fun.), and it has no grace. But it's filled with grace. The book truly transcends its writing. I understand from reading a couple of reviews that she took some major heat for admitting she didn't initially want to have a baby with Down Syndrome. But guess what? Down Syndrome sucks! It's really crappy news, and everybody wants to have a healthy baby. I'm not sure how these critics picture their own version of this story unfolding (unfailingly noble?), but the reason this is such a valuable memoir is that she owns all the different parts of this experience. Her amazing attitude, her disappointment, the thoughts that she's ashamed of, her shining moments of achievement, her sadness and her love for her daughters. Anybody could be a coward and write a meaningless story where they left out everything unflattering and made sure not to brag about the things that went well, and it would be the most inhuman picture of what it's like to have a child born with a disability. There seems to be a really ugly streak in some people (women) that read memoirs--either to say 'You didn't have it that bad!' or 'I'll judge you for something I never had to live through.' Those people are totally missing the point of reading a memoir. The photography in the book is beautiful, and the author is so likable. She's the kind of girl I usually hate with ease--everything is made perfect (party favors for the birth room!), she's beautiful even when she's been crying, an enormous circle of ridiculously supportive friends--but you can't hate her. She's too real, and too genuine, and she's making those party favors because they make her happy, not to one-up anybody. She was willing to say she felt some regret at wasting a beautiful name on this baby, that with everything going on in their lives, that she was disappointed the baby would have to wear glasses. That is unsparing. She is brave enough to expose herself in every light so you can know how this really felt. I loved her for it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Angela Scott

    Full of hope and perfectly honest for someone going through something similar.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    As Kelle Hampton and her husband prepare to welcome their second little girl, they have no idea that lovely Nella, new little sister to their beloved Lainey, will present more new challenges — and opportunities — than they could ever have imagined. Born with Down syndrome, Nella’s condition was a complete shock to the Hamptons . . . especially Kelle, who was suddenly forced to reconcile the dreams she had for the “sister” relationship her daughters would share and left to grapple with how a speci As Kelle Hampton and her husband prepare to welcome their second little girl, they have no idea that lovely Nella, new little sister to their beloved Lainey, will present more new challenges — and opportunities — than they could ever have imagined. Born with Down syndrome, Nella’s condition was a complete shock to the Hamptons . . . especially Kelle, who was suddenly forced to reconcile the dreams she had for the “sister” relationship her daughters would share and left to grapple with how a special-needs child would impact her family. In her honest, raw accounts of the early days of Nella’s life and where her family is now, Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected is a captivating, soul-soaring story of a mama whose love for her children knows no bounds. Hampton is a blogger, writer, photographer — all talents immediately evident at her blog, Enjoying the Small Things. Nella’s story begins as a post in January 2010, and the Hamptons’ lives are forever altered by her arrival. What becomes immediately obvious in Kelle’s retelling is this mother’s pure, raw and unfiltered ability to draw you into her family’s story . . . and hold nothing back. I’m going to be honest with you, just as Kelle is honest with us: her reaction to Nella’s Down syndrome was tough to read. She painfully describes the days and nights following her daughter’s birth, in which she writhed and sobbed and questioned her faith. I felt physically uncomfortable hearing Kelle’s reaction, but the story is obviously a retrospective. We understand that Kelle doesn’t feel this way now and, in fact, she frequently mentions her own embarrassment about her behavior. We know how much she adores Nella now — but she doesn’t prune the past. She chooses not to remove the ugly bits, even knowing how ugly they really are. And that is the power of Bloom: Kelle invites us in, knowing we could judge her. Frown at her. Gossip about her. She invites us in because this story — her story — is an important one to tell, and she wants us to understand that Nella truly is a blessing. Their blessing. And if she couldn’t yet understand it that January night, she gets it now. Bloom is real, honest, gut-wrenching. It’s thought-provoking — what would I do in this situation? — and it’s painful. It’s also beautiful and realistic and something I couldn’t stop reading, because I have so much respect and admiration for Kelle — and so much jealousy regarding her giant, awesome net of friends (and how they get her through). The women in her life are amazing, and she makes no bones about the importance of their faith, inspiration and guidance in the weeks, months and years after Nella’s birth. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how truly gorgeous this paperback is. As Kelle is a talented photographer, the pictures in Bloom are her own — and each big moment is illustrated with a stunning shot or two. The book is the perfect blend of photographs and narrative, but make no mistake: the words themselves? Super important. This ain’t some picture book with a few captions pasted in, friends; Kelle is a fantastic, engaging writer, and I closed the final page with so much love for her family. The photos tell their own stories, and the book wouldn’t be as powerful without them. If you appreciate memoirs, stories of family, books that detail adversity and rising above . . . well, I’ve got a book for you. Readers don’t need children of their own to appreciate Bloom and its universal truths about love, life and relationships, though I imagine the story will resonate even more powerfully for parents. This was the type of book I finished and wished I’d read a little more slowly.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    I had never heard of Kelle Hampton before I read this book. But apparently she is quite well-known in the Mommy blogosphere and in the Down syndrome community. Her blog has almost 20,000 followers and it has won several awards. She’s been on the Today show and other similar venues. So apparently a lot of people know of her and those that do seem to either love or hate her. I’m not going to take such a polar stance but I will say the first thing that popped into my head as I read the first chapte I had never heard of Kelle Hampton before I read this book. But apparently she is quite well-known in the Mommy blogosphere and in the Down syndrome community. Her blog has almost 20,000 followers and it has won several awards. She’s been on the Today show and other similar venues. So apparently a lot of people know of her and those that do seem to either love or hate her. I’m not going to take such a polar stance but I will say the first thing that popped into my head as I read the first chapter, “This lady is TOO MUCH!” This is a woman who brought handmade favors to the hospital when her second daughter was born to pass out to her “guests.” She had plastic champagne glasses with “Welcome Nella” artfully drawn on them (although she insisted the words were scribbled) to toast her daughter’s birth with her friends and family moments after Nella was born. She had a special quilt to lay on while giving birth, special clothes for Nella to wear while in the hospital (I didn’t even know that you were allowed to take them out of the too-big side-snap shirts that seem to be common issue in hospitals), and special Burt’s Bees lotion to put on her. And Kelle is a photographer (a good one to my untrained eye) so she photographs every moment of this overdoing of her life. Her two friends took over 2000 pictures of Nella’s birth. I had never heard of anything like it. And the extravagances don’t end there. The children’s parties that she throws look like a spread from Pottery Barn Kids, down to the very tiniest detail. Everything is over-the-top in a way that you would think no mother would ever be able to achieve and only exists in Martha Stewart’s dreams. The book is a memoir of Kelle’s first year after her second daughter Nella is born with Down’s syndrome, a diagnosis they did not know of before her birth. The book has beautiful photographs on almost every page, many of them of have Kelle herself in them who is also quite attractive. I learned a lot about the services offered to parents of babies with Down’s and a little bit about the syndrome itself. But mostly this was a book about Kelle’s emotional journey coming to terms with her daughter’s extra chromosome and the friends in her “Net” that support her along the way. And oh those friendships! Again, something I thought only existed in “Beaches” or “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.” They sit together sharing a quilt next to blazing fires sipping wine and sharing stories and belly laughs until 4 in the morning, their beautiful jammie-clad babes snuggled up and sleeping peacefully beside them. They have charm swapping ceremonies (?) that result in sixteen boxes of Kleenex being consumed and friendship bonds of steel being forged. And again they bring the quilts to a restaurant to snuggle under together during this thing. I just had no clue that anyone has a reality like this one. And to top it off, she has this incredibly sunny outlook on everything. So after a 7-hour cry fest in the hospital bed with her two besties after Nella was born, she resolutely decides to deal with this diagnosis in an amazing way and “rock it out” like it’s never been done before. So the people that know of Kelle seem to find her completely inspiring, motivating, a Super Mom, and a wonderful advocate of Down’s syndrome. Or they think she is full of shit, narcissistic, and consumed with creating a “brand” of familial perfection to display to the world. I’m going to straddle the line and say it’s probably a little bit of both, but I don’t want to judge too much. Honestly I’m just still trying to get over the handmade favors and quilt-sharing.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I identify with the difficulty of accepting that your child has a disability. It can take years to fully and completely accept that reality. It doesn't mean that you don't love your child or accept him the way he is. It's just difficult and new parenting challenges can pop up at any time, even years after a diagnosis. As the parent of a child with a disability, it's hard to see your child put herself out there, to try to play soccer or to go on a school field trip and see it not work out like it I identify with the difficulty of accepting that your child has a disability. It can take years to fully and completely accept that reality. It doesn't mean that you don't love your child or accept him the way he is. It's just difficult and new parenting challenges can pop up at any time, even years after a diagnosis. As the parent of a child with a disability, it's hard to see your child put herself out there, to try to play soccer or to go on a school field trip and see it not work out like it does for the other kids whose parents don't even give simply participating a second thought. There are days when it just smacks you in the face and then there are other magical days. I felt for the author about discovering at birth that there was something different about her child. I at least had about four months before realizing that my "perfect" baby wasn't. It took another 14 months to make that official. We then jumped on the train of multiple therapists at the house and special ed preschool and all the other things that isolate parents, just when they need support the most. What kept running through my mind while reading this is that for Kelle Hampton, friends are very important. I kept feeling thankful for her that her daughter doesn't have autism. The most controversial parts of this book seem to be with her take on the support communities she discusses and how she felt she did not fit in and did not want to be there. I completely get that. I didn't want to go to a support group to pray for my child. There are quite a few religious based supports in my area and I have never chosen to attend any of their outreach programs or take advantage of the trainings and respites, simply as they are based out of an evangelical church. I'm not going to be hypocritical and use their services if I'm not going to even listen to them trying to save me or have me go to church. We're Jewish - not happening. I also stopped going to the school based support sessions because it cost me personally too much emotional energy. Newly diagnosed children's parents are very needy, with many questions and many concerns. I just don't have it in me to provide that to others any longer, the farther we move on in our own journey. I've found my own place in the community with a school system advisory panel concerning education policy and funding in our county. I feel as if I can give back to others while still being able to keep myself whole. It took a long time to get here and I've found my niche. As much as I agree with both the high and the low raters of this book, I'm choosing to remain in the middle. Raising a special needs child is a personal journey. It's not my place to judge how Kelle Hampton decides to go down her particular path.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I really wanted to like this book and expected so much more from it. I was pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous colour photos throughout the novel but that was the only high point for me; unfortunately for the author, including pictures of your beautiful children will not earn any extra stars from me. I was greatly disturbed by the author's lack of acceptance of her new daughter, but it went beyond that. The book was dull and boring. Even with such an interesting obstacle, I felt like nothing ha I really wanted to like this book and expected so much more from it. I was pleasantly surprised by the gorgeous colour photos throughout the novel but that was the only high point for me; unfortunately for the author, including pictures of your beautiful children will not earn any extra stars from me. I was greatly disturbed by the author's lack of acceptance of her new daughter, but it went beyond that. The book was dull and boring. Even with such an interesting obstacle, I felt like nothing happened. The author was whinny, self-pitying and annoying. She had the perfect life - a pretty blonde daughter; a handsome, older, wealthy husband; wonderful friends and now - a "less than perfect baby". Please cue the water works. The author's self-entitlement and perfectionism irritated me so much that I almost wanted something bad to happen to her so she could actually deal with a challenge. I also found the author to be hypocritical. In the chapter about her childhood (the only chapter that was actually interesting) she describes how her upbringing taught her that perfection isn't possible. Yet, during her adult years, she writes that she strives for perfection - and to a rather sickening point. Before her second daughter's birth, she plans music to play as she is giving birth, creates beautifully decorated gifts to give to her new baby's visitors, makes a 'big sister' shirt for her oldest daughter, writes a welcome message to the new baby on her chalk board at home, chooses a calming scented lotion to smell as she gives birth, etc. - I wish every pregnant woman had the time for this. I feel as though, despite her age, the author lacked life experience and insights. Her writing is okay but the story is very dull. It is not inspiring nor was it enjoyable. I really, really wanted to hear the author's plans for parenting her newborn child who had down syndrome - her hopes and dreams for her. I wanted to learn more about her daughter and less, much less about the author. I would not recommend this novel to anyone and I wish I hadn't read it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    Ms. Hampton should be ashamed of herself. She is not a writer. Her book is self-serving, over indulgent, sham of a publication. Page after boring page is devoted to her deep and all consuming desire to run away from the nightmare of her daughter's surprise Down syndrome diagnosis. while some describe this as raw, and real, all I see are the many dollar signs in Kelle Hampton's eyes. In what world does a stay at home mom and blog wrter from Naples, FL get a book offer and agent "a few months afte Ms. Hampton should be ashamed of herself. She is not a writer. Her book is self-serving, over indulgent, sham of a publication. Page after boring page is devoted to her deep and all consuming desire to run away from the nightmare of her daughter's surprise Down syndrome diagnosis. while some describe this as raw, and real, all I see are the many dollar signs in Kelle Hampton's eyes. In what world does a stay at home mom and blog wrter from Naples, FL get a book offer and agent "a few months after Nella was born"? This is no road map for parents facing a diagonals of Down syndrome. Rather, it is a shameful exploitation of a spoiled little girl who never got beyond the shock of her personal diagnosis, that of the child of divorce and a gay father. Never once does she discuss any of the lessons she learned as a fierce advocate for her daughter. Never once does she share secrets or mistakes learned along the way. She does, however, speak cloyingly, using every cliche she can think of to describe her very painful metamorphosis from text book stay at home mom to 2 lovely little girls, to stay at home brand of her perfect kitten and her almond eyed, designer daughter. Her references to "community" and "the net" designed to suggest that she really cares about the greater good and making a world where everyone is accepted for their own merit. I don't buy it. I cannot fathom this book bringing hope to any new parent of a Down syndrome child. I can imagine it making newly diagnosed families feel badly that they don;t have a "net" or a personal photographers at their beck and call. Bloom is yet another in a string of blog books presented by publishers to capitalize on social media and its magical effect on stay at home moms. And of course, their bottom line. In the end, shame on me for blowing $11.99. I have no one but myself to blame for believing the hype!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

    First my feelings on Kelle prior to reading this book, I follow her blog and have for quite a while, I find her to be likeable but sometimes over the top and too much. I LOVED this book and it made me really see where she is coming from in her sometimes over the top attitude and it made me appreciate the detail she puts into everything she seems to do. I was on a road trip with my husband while I was reading this and more than once he looked over at me and asked me to take a break because he coul First my feelings on Kelle prior to reading this book, I follow her blog and have for quite a while, I find her to be likeable but sometimes over the top and too much. I LOVED this book and it made me really see where she is coming from in her sometimes over the top attitude and it made me appreciate the detail she puts into everything she seems to do. I was on a road trip with my husband while I was reading this and more than once he looked over at me and asked me to take a break because he couldn't take my sobbing, this book just tore at my heart and I couldn't help it. Although, there were times I was also laughing hysterically! I loved that this book had so much new material, stuff that I haven't read on the blog. I loved learning about her childhood and her life growing up and then how she ended up in FL and meeting Brett, since I've always wondered about that anyways. I think most of us create a life for ourselves in our mind and envision how life is going to be, as Kelle did. It's just that it doesn't always work out that way and life throws us all curveballs and we deal with them in the best ways we know possible. I can't begrudge Kelle for her feelings after finding out Nella had DS, I feel like she's doing the best she can, it has humbled her and opened her eyes to a world she didn't know much about prior to Nella. I am so glad I read this book and learned more about the life of the Hampton’s.

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