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Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected--A Memoir (2012)

by Kelle Hampton

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15520139,122 (3.32)None
"The author of the popular blog Enjoying the Small Things interweaves lyrical prose and stunning four-color photography as she recounts the story of the first year of her daughter Nella--who has Down syndrome--and celebrates the beauty found in the unexpected, the strength of a mother's love, and, ultimately, the amazing power of perspective"--… (more)
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I was looking forward to reading this highly praised book. However, I was very disappointed. I loved the pictures of the 2 cute girls, but I didn't realize that it was a poor self-pitying story about "woe is me".
I can understand that the author had the shock of a life-time when she found out at her daughter's birth that the baby had DS, but except for a short part about the baby's jaundice and then the need for glasses it was only about the mom's feelings. ( )
  yukon92 | Feb 11, 2015 |
Such a beautiful and touching story is what Im left with after having read this very special memoir.

From the first chapter reading through the Hampton's delivery and the discovery of a downs syndrome baby to the ups and downs of Nella's first year, I sat riveted to every page and every lovely picture as the story unfolded. Not only just a testament of a woman's soul searching and growth as a mother, and Nella, the child who came with unexpected qualities, but also a unique scrapbook documenting precious moments of family time from talented photographers. The pictures that Kelle Hampton shared made me feel like I knew them somehow, everything about the tone of the book felt personal and for the mood this book desires it played out most exquisite.

As a reviewer I can tell fellow readers that it was written excellent, the pages flew by and the flow of the book made for smooth reading. Even for those who normally cringe at memoirs or have no idea which one to read, Bloom would be a perfect place to start. The book in one word was moving, as a mother it resonated with me powerfully, and while I can't share in the same emotions of raising a special needs child, I did relate to the soul searching and the questions Hampton had processing her role to the kids, her husband and life in general. To my pleasant surprise this book was actually based off Hamptons real time blog, and the daily updates she shares about Nella and life in general. I never knew of Nella's story previously, and after reading this book I will for sure keep up with them and check in from time to time.

Bloom was a beautiful book, and Nella is a beautiful little soul. With her lyrical almost tear worthy words on every page, Kelle inspired me to look deeper into my heart and never take for granted these precious years I have with my own children. To take many pictures, laugh and worry less about the negative things in the world. ( )
  Tinasbookreviews | Jul 30, 2013 |
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. ( )
  writemeg | Apr 11, 2013 |
Received for Review

NOTE: I haven't reviewed a nonfiction book in a long while. I don't read them hardly any more because I like to escape real life for awhile. That being said, every once in awhile I see one that screams to be read----that was Bloom!

What I Loved: I am not a mom. I have furry children but in the world of parenting I am not sure that counts. I am a friend to many people with kids--some of them struggled with infertility, some of them had it "easy" (not easy but no problems getting pregnant), and last year one of my very best friends had a baby girl with Down Syndrome. So when I saw this book, I just knew I had to read this story. I cried pretty much beginning to end (happy and sad tears). This story was raw, real, and Kelle Hampton didn't try to make herself out to be "the person who handled everything perfectly". She was brutally honest and I am sure it killed her to put that out to the world that she didn't handle the original diagnoses well. She made up for it in leaps and bounds but still to read that heartbreaking passage of the first 24 hours was just sad. I am sure others will be angry during that part but honestly I was just sad for her, her family, Nelly, her friends. However, I truly believe her acknowledgement of those first days is what pushed her the next 11 months to becoming one of the most prolific bloggers that supports Down Syndrome! It will break your heart,you will cry, and then as the book moves past that you will cry for completely different reasons. There is way more happiness than sadness and Kelle had a brilliant way of getting the story all out there.

What I Liked: The family photos were amazing and how lucky to get those candid shots.

Final Thought: Nonfiction is not for everyone but if you are looking for a truly amazing life altering story---this is for you!
  thehistorychic | Apr 3, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I don't read nonfiction very much, so wasn't sure I would like Bloom. The mother's story is compelling and as a reader I cared about her family and her kids. The book helps people understand how she lived with the initial disappointment of having a Down syndrome child and how that changed to something precious for her. The inclusion of photos also makes her story more powerful. ( )
  saplin | Aug 25, 2012 |
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Epigraph
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" --Mary Oliver
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For Lainey:  Who showed me how to love
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I turned thirty-one on December 29, 2009. My husband and I went to dinner with friends the evening before, and as we left, toting our leftovers in Styrofoam boxes and marveling at my very round pregnant belly that seemed to have grown a bit since dinner, I noticed the welcoming glow of the nearby bookstore.
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"The author of the popular blog Enjoying the Small Things interweaves lyrical prose and stunning four-color photography as she recounts the story of the first year of her daughter Nella--who has Down syndrome--and celebrates the beauty found in the unexpected, the strength of a mother's love, and, ultimately, the amazing power of perspective"--

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