Love me. Love me. I'm not what you expected, but oh, please love me.
That was the most defining moment of my life. That was the beginning of my story.
When photographer Kelle Hampton learned she was pregnant with her second child, she and her husband, Brett, were ecstatic. Her pregnancy went smoothly and the ultrasounds showed a beautiful, healthy, high-kicking baby girl.
But when her new daughter was placed in her arms in the delivery room, Kelle knew instantly that something was wrong. Nella looked different than her two-year-old sister Lainey had at birth. As she watched friends and family celebrate with champagne toasts and endless photographs, a terrified Kelle was certain that Nella had Down syndrome - a fear her pediatrician soon confirmed. Yet gradually Kelle's fear and pain were vanquished by joy, as she embraced the realization that she had been chosen to experience an extraordinary and special gift.
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.
"The author's descriptions of people and events are clear and easy to follow, but it's her beautiful photographs that bring them to life.... Sunny and inspiring." - Kirkus Reviews
"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 one of the most emotionally stirring books I've ever read. Kelle Hampton writes with such breathtaking honesty that I actually felt as if I were in the room with her when she gave birth to Nella and I cried along with her as her initial fears about baby Nella proved true. But mostly, I celebrated as Kelle fell madly in love with Nella and began to realize that being her mother is nothing short of her preordained purpose. This story is a reminder that perfect, when it comes to human beings, is such a relative (and irrelevant) term and that a mother's love for her child is a powerful, eternal, unshakable force." - Ree Drummond, New York Times bestselling author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks
"Kelle Hampton has a spectacular talent for happy, and captures it on every page in a way that grabs you, that says Hey, wake up - joy is a choice! She reminds us that life may not always look pretty or perfect, but it is always beautiful. Kelle also exquisitely expresses what it is to be a mother, to know that our hearts are big enough to embrace love, terror, joy, pain, exhilaration, sadness - all before our morning cup of coffee. She has indeed made of her life something 'wild and precious' and her book, like her two beautiful girls, is a bundle of joy. I finished it reluctantly and with a full heart." - Claire Fontaine, national bestselling author of Come Back: A Mother and Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back
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Rated of 5
Mamacubana Missing something I am the mother of a downs syndrome child who has significant health issues so I recognize that my perspective might be a bit different than others. I was hoping for some inspiration or life lessons that I could apply to my own life. I was hoping to find a connection in this sisterhood of being a mother of a DS child. Unfortunately, I did not connect with the author or her experience really at all. The books tone felt heavy on melodrama and seemed really self-centered. I cannot believe that the full first half of this book was focused on her own disappointment with Nelle's DS. So much grief and pain. So many people had to come to her rescue. So many pages and words dedicated to her self-pity. I never felt that level of disappointment. I always felt DS was the least of my worries, we would work with that, just keep him alive and healthy! Maybe it is because I know the real threat of not having your child at all, but I can't help but feel she should be ashamed for acting so selfishly. Ultimately, it was hard for me to complete the book because I found myself not learning anything, completely lacking empathy for her, and wanting to admonish her behavior. Liked her blog...not the book.
Rated of 5
Selene M. (West Chicago, IL) Bring the Kleenex This was a very quick read only hampered by how often I had to wipe my eyes and blow my nose. It was poignant and true to life as we examine one mom's struggle with accepting a newborn with Down's Syndrome. The story takes us through the year long journey from shock and disbelief to acceptance and happiness. A sweet memoir.
Rated of 5
Pam C. (Artesia, NM) Bloom! What an absolutely amazing book and author! So brimming over with the joy of life and living. Kelle and her family were eagerly expecting a second child; the girl they hoped for turned out to have Down syndrome, but otherwise perfectly healthy. Her book is about the choices we make to cope with life. I have no experience being a mother, but her voice spoke to me after having lost my husband in December and helped me to embrace my grief and then go beyond it to an acceptance of all that is life. Kelle is an amazing lady!
Rated of 5
Margaret H. (Springfield, VA) Bloom Imagine the shock when Kelle saw that her anticipated daughter, Nella, had Down syndrome. Kelle had not opted for tests to determine if this was a possibility. It wasn’t long before her pediatrician confirmed her fears but it was equally fast for her friends and family to gather around her and support her during her days in the hospital with Nella and their first year together. This memoir traces Kelle’s feelings and actions as she deals with the fact that her daughter will be different. She starts a blog and eventually reaches out to others who are parents of Down syndrome children. All along she has so much support from her many friends and her husband and family, including the other children in the family. However, this book is mainly about Kelle and very little about the things that Nella did during her first year. We hear about her going places with her mother, wearing glasses, facing blood tests, and meeting her therapist. This would have been a better book for parents of Down syndrome children if more of this information had been included and not quite so self centered. However, I suppose this is a purpose of a memoir.
Rated of 5
Gail I. (Delray Beach, FL) An Unexpected Blessing This beautiful memoir of the birth of the author's second child is a lesson to us all. Having expectations for her second child and the future and realizing that her fantasy of perfection is not what life is about, Kelle leads on a journey from grieving over having a child with a handicap to support from her many friends and family members and finally acceptance and joy. I loved the photos since they made me feel as if I were part of her support group. Everyone has something. Sometimes we put too much emphasis on perfection instead of unconditional love and acceptance. It is gratifying that she found joy and learned a lesson from the birth of her "less than perfect" baby. We should all live up to our individual potential and not project our expectations upon others. A heart warming journey of life...
Rated of 5
Sharon M. (Oceanside, CA) BLOOM BLOOM is a wonderful book. It is so much the story of my Niece who was born with Downs. It is a wonderful, tragic story. I loved the pictures of the two girls. Kelle told the story with such love. I laughed and then I cried. A wonderful story.
Writer and photographer Kelle Hampton chronicles the simple joys of motherhood and daily life on her popular blog, Enjoying the Small Things. She has been recognized as a Babble Top 50 Mom Blogger, and her blog was named The Best Special Needs Blog by The Bump and The Blog You've Learned the Most From in the 2010 BlogLuxe Awards. An advocate for individuals with Down syndrome, Kelle has been honored by both the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and the National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC), receiving the NDSC National Media Award in 2010. She has been interviewed on CNN as a Connector of the Day and on Rosie O'Donnell's radio program, Rosie Radio. Kelle lives in Naples, Florida, with her husband, Brett; their two daughters, Lainey and Nella; and her stepsons, Austyn and Brandyn. Visit her online at www.kellehampton.com.
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