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on August 29, 2012
I am not sure why I picked up A Love That Multiplies by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar. Up until Tuesday, when I caught a 19 Kids and Counting marathon on TLC, I've never watched the show before, nor read their previous books. But their philosophies on children and child-rearing and their faith intrigued me, so I picked this book up.

The book is not so much a memoir, as an up-close, conversational look at the Duggar family's daily life, and the events surrounding young Josie's birth. Topics range from managing the home and packing for trips, to homeschooling such a large group, to taking care of bad behavior from young ones at the first incident. Interspersed between each section and story is a favorite recipe, a list of snacks, or general home management tips.

They talk a lot about their faith, which is a very central part of their lives, and I can appreciate the way that it is really shaped their decisions as a family. Michelle and Jim Bob do not just say that children are a gift from the Lord, they live their lives as a testament to that as they arrange their days to teach their children and to spend time with them. Based on this book, it would appear that although the Duggar children may have some pretty strict rules on internet usage, and they may not own the latest and greatest gadgets, the Duggar children develop practical life skills and conflict resolutions skills from incredibly early age, making them more mature than their peers.

The writing was okay, more conversational in nature which doesn't always translate well to the page. There was also the assumption that the reader had both watched 19 Kids and Counting or read their previous book, as they made many references to the show, or referred to things they had shared in their previous book. While I can appreciate that they didn't want to bore readers with repeated information, it tended to make things feel choppy and incomplete.

Overall, I liked the book, and I really appreciate the Duggar family and their commitment to their faith. I would recommend the book to young parents, or to those looking to a non-traditional story of those choosing to live out their faith. I give A Love That Multiplies three stars.
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on June 14, 2011
This book provides deeper, more emotional insight into the Duggar family than their first book, which provided more information about their daily lives. What I liked best about this book was that Michelle and Jim Bob let their opinions be known a little more openly; there was less sugarcoating when it came to religiously significant topics. For example, they gave a name of a website and said its contents prove why "evolution is impossible." While I disagree with the statement, I applaud Michelle and Jim Bob for their brevity and sincerity. There were other instances of that throughout the book and it made for an interesting read. I love the Duggars and their books because it is a breath of fresh air to learn about a family focused on simply being nice to each other. An enjoyable and uplifting read!
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on June 7, 2011
I have to admit, I watch the Duggars' TV show. So I was pretty interested to read this book. I tend to find the Duggars' religious beliefs a bit extreme, and there is certainly a lot of preaching in this book. It does make sense though, as their religion is their whole life. The first section of this book covers Michelle's pre-eclampsia and Josie's emergency delivery. There's not really anything new there if you have seen their TV show.

The rest of the book covers their philosophies for parenting and life in general. These are heavily influenced by Bill Gothard and his IBLP. Their beliefs fall under what I would label as (in the words of my nephew) "super mega extreme" conservatism. Once again, there is very little in here that you don't already know if you watch their TV show. A few interesting notes for me was that Michelle and Jim Bob both readily admit that they do get upset and have (in the past anyway) even raised their voices. Shocking, I know. However, it does make them seem a little more human. Perhaps the most compelling thing in the book is Michelle describing what it was like to learn her father was dying while Josie was also fighting for her life. This part was actually a very beautiful example of how her life and beliefs helped to bolster her in a very low point of her life.

There is some useful advice. For example, Michelle discusses taking care of needs and/or bad behavior when it first appears instead of letting it go and potentially become a bigger problem. However, for every useful idea, there are several things that appear not as good to me. Blanket training was a concept I took issue with. I have a 17 month old, and I find it vastly unrealistic to think that he should be able to sit on a blanket and not move for an hour or so. No way am I going to torture both of us by trying this. There's also a strange bit where they talk about training their children (even very small ones) that they have to look everyone directly in the eye, lest they come across as disrespectful. What if the child is naturally shy? Or going through a clingy stage? It seems odd to me.

The writing was just OK. It's written in the first person, but the narrator switches between Michelle and Jim Bob a lot. It got kind of annoying to find out who was talking half-way through the section. I wish that had flowed a bit better. There were also some things that seemed thrown in to quiet critics. For example, there were several recipes in the book, and almost all of them included lots of fresh veggies and fruits. Maybe that is how they really do eat, but I know they have gotten some criticism for how their diet appears on the show. They also have a section about how their daughters would be allowed to live out there dreams and even go to college (even though Bill Gothard seems anti anything that takes women out of the house and authority of a male). Whether this is true or not remains to be seen.

Overall, this book is pretty good. If you watch their show, there is not much new to be gleaned from this book (unless you want to memorize Duggar approved Bible verses). It is a fairly quick read. Be prepared to get products (especially those from places like IBLP and Vision Forum) heavily endorsed. There is quite a bit of that in the book. If you really love the Duggars, then you will probably enjoy this book. Otherwise, most the book will probably leave you shaking your head.

Galley provided by publisher for review.
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on June 6, 2011
I thought this was a great book. I have been watching the Duggars on TV since their first show, and have always been impressed and encouraged by this family. This book explains a lot of how and why they do the things they do. Thank you, Jim Bob & Michelle for taking the time to write this book.
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on April 15, 2014
This book does give you an upclose look at the Duggar family's beliefs and practices; however, once you "get to know them" through the book, you might find that you don't actually like them very much.

They lob plenty of judgment around, mostly at women -- everything from blaming cervical cancer patients for their disease, to describing the "code word" they use when scantily clad girls and women are around, to discussing why they don't allow their children to become friends with people from other religious backgrounds (because Jesus told us to make disciples, not friends!).

It also becomes apparent that the older children, especially the older girls, are actually responsible for most of the day-to-day work that keeps the family going, from doing the shopping and the packing to grading the younger kids' schoolwork. One happy little story describes a teenage girl becoming physically ill from stress after being forced to drive alone, in the rain, with her younger siblings in the car for many hours. Not exactly the fun and happy childhood you see on their TV show!

If you're interested in knowing how this big family works, and what they actually believe, this book is brutally honest. You'll definitely get an inside look at them. Just be prepared -- you might find out more than you want to.
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on July 13, 2011
I watch the show and enjoy learning about the Dugger family values but I must admit this book was poorly written. Most of the time I found myself trying to figure out who was writing that section (either Michelle or Jim Bob). After reading through half a paragraph they would finally put their name in parenthesis. I am not sure if they used a ghost writer but I am almost positive they did not. I felt they were jumping back and forth and this made it difficult to follow along. I enjoy their show but the book was nothing great.
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on April 26, 2013
I like the Duggars. I know they're a bit conservative and certainly unconventionally invested in welcoming more children "blessings" than most people ever would. But there is something that resonates in their faith-and-family lifestyle that is comforting and comfortable. This book is one look at their beliefs and gentle ways and is certainly a breath of fresh air after the violence, sex and drama that permeates most of our culture and lives, these days. Reading about the Duggars is like a time trip back into the early 1950's...when a handshake was enough to seal a deal, and being polite and respectful was the rule rather than the exception. Seeing how the Duggars manage their huge family, their ideals and their faith is a pleasant way to spend an hour or two.
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on June 26, 2011
I enjoyed the Duggars' first book and think there are many positive things about their family. While some of their beliefs are controversial, it's good for people to be able to learn about different lifestyles and ideas, including ones that are considered unusual or extreme. So I was looking forward to reading this second book by the Duggars.

I was disappointed to find that many of the topics were already discussed in the first book. Nothing is repeated word for word, but there aren't many new insights either. Several chapters simply recount events that have appeared on the show, again presenting very little that viewers don't already know about the Duggars' lives.

Although there's a lot of overlap between this book and the first, this one is less enjoyable for a number of reasons. For one thing, the tone is a bit defensive--sometimes laughably so. As another reviewer pointed out, the healthy recipes in A Love That Multiplies seem like a response to the criticism the Duggars have received about high-fat meals. But that's not all. The first book included a picture of the boys eating donuts; the exact same picture is reprinted in this book, with a new caption that says they usually snack on fruits and vegetables and enjoy donuts only "occasionally". The first book included a story about Michelle learning to discipline the children in a calm and patient way; this book features the same story, with the added detail that the kids were eating pineapple for a snack when the incident occurred. There's even a little sidebar that warns parents to be careful that the food found in their kitchens is healthy enough. I understand that there are a lot of accusations made against the Duggars and the family is justified in responding, but A Love That Multiplies goes overboard in answering everything, and it detracts from the experience of reading the book.

The tone is a bit more preachy than in the first. There are a lot more Bible verses, lots of references to people "sharing hearts," and some not-very-good inspirational poetry. There are pages of warnings and instructions to parents, including sections about seemingly obvious relationship skills that are fairly boring. The Duggars start off the book by stating that they're not perfect, but unlike in the first book, we don't see many instances of them struggling or learning from mistakes. Instead, they react with prayer and a positive attitude to just about every challenge that comes along. This made them harder to relate to in A Love That Multiplies.

The book would have been better if it had included more information about the individual children's interests and goals. On the show, viewers watch the children pursue projects and listen to interviews with one or two of them at a time. In A Love That Multiplies, the children are all lumped together and the reader learns little about them as individuals. Well, we do learn some things about them. There's a comment about the timing of the older girls' menstrual cycles, and there's a story about Jinger's diary being stolen by an unscrupulous fan. But I'm not interested in their bodily functions or times when the kids were victims. I want to learn about times when the kids took the initiative and accomplished things. There's very little of that in this book, other than a short section on Josh's car lot and some vague references to midwifery training for the girls.

There are also a few sections that should have been completely removed. In particular, some things in the section about sex were really creepy. It presents a story Jim Bob tells that's supposed to emphasize the importance of purity. The story compares someone whose purity has been "stolen" to a beat-up bicycle that doesn't make a good present. I found the implication that people who have lost their virginity are damaged goods to be very offensive. That section also states that Jim Bob regularly checks up on the boys to ask if they're having problems with impure thoughts. I cringed when I read that part. Perhaps some explanation would have made this section more palatable, but I don't think it had to be there at all given that the Duggars have already widely publicized their views on sex and morality.

Thus, I'd recommend that people who want to learn more about the Duggars stick with the first book or just watch the show.
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on February 18, 2014
I was hoping for more practical information on the Duggar parents child-rearing practices that do not relate specifically to their religious beliefs but their religious faith is so intertwined with their child-rearing that is not possible. However, I have picked up the importance of praising children for specific behaviors much more often than correcting them and have implemented this practice with my grandchildren with good results. I have found that I enjoy the grandchildren more and that the need for discipline (correction) is greatly reduced. Although I admire much that the Duggars stand for, I have major reservations about the manner in which they prepare their children for the future-evidently without college educations (there is no record that even attendance at Christian colleges is encouraged) or formal training that does not require a college degree. Lack of formal education will preclude their children from engaging in the professional careers (nurse, doctor, teacher, pastor, counselor, as well as many others) that truly serve a community. That said, it is refreshing to read about a family that does not engage in the disgusting culture that is commonly portrayed on TV and that has instead elevated family life to a much higher level.
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on March 8, 2012
A Love That Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make it Work by Jim Bob & Michelle Duggar is a unique look into the life of family with 19 children and how they make it work. Just because the Duggars have a successful TV show doesn't mean they haven't had their share of ups and downs. In fact, their last child, Josie, was a preemie and Michelle was away from home for 7 months. How did the Duggars handle this huge change amidst mission trips to El Salvador, chicken pox and a slow recovery of Michelle as she also had to learn to care for Josie in a whole new way? Faith in God is what sustains them and their rock solid beliefs. They share many principles that guide them in parenting as well as schedules, ministry ideas and marriage advice. They are not numb to problems, but approach each situation as learning opportunities. There are many resources cited and plenty of yummy recipes they share.

I had only heard of the Duggars, but have never actually watched their show (I don't have the channel.). From this book I can tell they are very humble and only want to further the Kingdom of God with their lives. I really appreciated and was amazed at all the things they strive to teach their children. Throughout the book they used phrases like "We teach our children ________ because ________." I want to go back through and write all of these down! As I read this book I realized that no matter how big or small your family is, make them your priority. The Duggars are raising a wonderful generation of godly young men and women. We should all strive to be families that honor God this way.
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