I recently read Kelle Hampton’s Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected–A Memoir and wanted to do a quick review just to recommend it to friends and family that might want a quick but wonderful read.
I have been reading Kelle Hampton’s blog since the day she posted about finding out her little girl had Down syndrome. She didn’t find out in the womb, it was suddenly realized when they placed Nella in her arms and she saw her flat nose and almond eyes. Her blog entry about the birth story was insanely heart-wrenching.
Photo Source: Kelle Hampton.com
She finally turned her story into a book, incorporating some other life events into the chapters. Her parent’s divorce due to her father admitting he was homosexual, the relationship between her and God, a miscarriage, how she met her husband, and her friendships are widely discussed throughout the pages. But the story is really about her role as a mother and how her younger daughter was brought into this world as “special” and what that meant for her as a mother.
Listen, y’all. I cried throughout the entire book. She cries throughout the entire book. Honestly, there were times where I didn’t think she could describe another crying episode without sounding redundant because she admits she cries freely and openly, and it’s evident by her stories. I looked like an idiot most of the time I was reading, so you might want to do so in private with a box of Kleenex.
She is also a photographer and includes a ton of pictures in the book, which further your emotion and make you feel very connected to her and her family. A lot of the pictures were also taken by her friend Heidi. Heidi is basically Super Friend of the Century and seems completely kickass and selfless.
One thing I really clung to was her attitude, which is so (almost scary) positive. I also clung to her relationships with her friends, WOW! We should all aspire to be friends like hers, to have friends like hers. They flew in from all over the country, stayed the night with her in the hospital, gave her constant support and encouragement, attended Down syndrome functions with her, kept her spirits up, and just generally rocked out. I’ll admit it made me miss my friends and want to be better for them, and I’m kind of exploring what that means for me right now because of that book.
Nella is just… a complete miracle and a complete cutie pie. Reading about her made me grin, reading about others with Down syndrome made me feel hopeful and challenged my own stereotypes, and the whole story is looked at through a frame of, “I’m a rockstar and life is precious and I’m going to rock it out.” While at times it feels a little cheesy and even borderline naive, something happens as you continue reading where you realize… “No… this woman genuinely believes these things. She genuinely believes you can be happy if you choose to be. She genuinely wants the best for her family and for others,” and your thoughts soften and her personality becomes so refreshing in a world where things can be pretty cynical and disturbing. She isn’t dumb or spoiled, she’s truly just kind and happy.
As far as a work of writing, I enjoyed it but there are some parts that seem repetitive and some insight into her stories seems missing. But it’s hard to criticize because I could barely put the book down and kept wondering what spunky, wonderful quote or outlook she would throw in next.The book isn’t written in this deep, philosophical way. It’s written simply and with purpose – to be honest about her experience, share it with others, and hope that it encourages them to stay hopeful through their own trials. There isn’t a lot of rhyme and riddles to her writing, but that’s kind of what makes it seem so truthful. I could relate to it without analyzing.
Kelle truly is an admirable person, a person you want to be your closest friend by the end of the book.
I definitely recommend this. There are tons of quotable pages, it would be a great re-read when you’re feeling blue about life circumstances, and I feel totally honored to support Kelle, her family and her mission (she has raised in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for Down syndrome awareness).
I’ll end with a small section I loved:
“Evolving as a human being takes a lifetime. There is no definitive answer, no calendar celebration of the day a “new and improved me” arrived; no packaged instructions or a nice how-to-get-there guide. There is no moment the respirator tube was pulled out and loved ones watching anxiously as I choked and gasped and shifted suddenly into breathing on my own. Likewise, there is no promise that Fear and Sadness won’t return, just as there is no promise that I’m free sailing through motherhood in general or even through my marriage. Grappling with any new challenge in life is like learning to swim. In the beginning, it damn near feels like you’re drowning. But you exhaustedly flail and flap and kick to survive. Slowly, you learn to tread water, and though moving forward might mean clutching the wall of the pool like a toddler and scrambling your fingers along the edge, you move. Eventually, you tread water and graduate to new strokes, and finally, after flailing and flapping, after clambering and slowly scotting, after experimenting with backstrokes and breaststrokes, you find the current and let go.”
-Kelle Hampton, Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected–A Memoir
You can buy here on Amazon