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85 of 101 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting in concept, disappointing in practice, April 29, 2012
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This review is from: Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected--A Memoir (Hardcover)
I will first say that there are some very visceral and powerful passages in this book, the most poignant being Kelle's vivid description of the first 48 hours of Nelle's life. However, I found two fatal flaws with the book that overall left me with a feeling of disappointment upon it's completion:

1) The book does not technically do what the publisher's description promises, which is, "[take] readers on a wondrous journey through Nella's first year of life...in which a mother learns that perfection comes in all different shapes." Quite simply, there is very little detail about Nella herself and very few vignettes about Nelle's journey. The story is more about how Kelle became comfortable "being a parent of a child with Down Syndrome" rather than becoming comfortable "being Nella's mother." Kelle focuses primarily on how the outer world perceives her, rather than her journey accepting her specific daughter in all her wonderful perfection and imperfection. I do think she makes some progress towards this end along the way, but the book centers on her own internal struggles to be ok being a mom to an "imperfect child," and thus an imperfect life.

2) The author is unsympathetic and naiive in her "I'll ignore all research / resources on Down Syndrome and do this my own way" approach. While I believe that in the first few shocking weeks/months of adjustment parents should be able to grieve their situation and come to acceptance in whatever way feels right to them, Kelle's utter refusal to do even preliminary research into Down Syndrome holds with it strong repercussions that she doesn't acknowledge. When you decide to forgo the potential benefits of literature and resources on the psychosocial and physical aspects of a disability, I feel you must own the risks that you are taking. In this case, I feel the risk she took was that she remained uninformed about her daughter's potentially bright future for a much longer time than she would have if she had faced the resources earlier (yes, I read the passage where she stayed up late and looked at internet resources, but I feel she should have gone with the ones medical professionals had specifically suggested rather than reading the depressing Special Olympics youtube comments). By secluding herself from others with Down Syndrome and resolving to "do it her own way," she remained in an isolated bubble where her lack of information, in my opinion, fed into her insecurities and fears for her daughter. I have worked and volunteered with children with various developmental disabilities and I am no stranger to how difficult it can be, but I have also had wonderfully positive experiences...just like with "normal" kids.

I'm really confused as to why her example is held up as extraordinarily positive, because while she repeatedly proclaims that her outlook is positive, there was a strong undercurrent of fear and denial throughout the story. She was afraid to even face children and adults with Down Syndrome until she went to the large conference near Nella's first birthday, and I think it is no coincidence that this experience represented a turning point for her.

I do believe that some people will find this story helpful, particularly in the author's honesty and ability to admit the feelings that many might feel uncomfortable admitting. She also has some great descriptions of her interactions with her husband. Overall, however, I would recommend Martha Beck's "Expecting Adam," which I feel is better written, more interesting and faces the issue more head on.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 22, 2012 10:34:51 AM PDT
R. Morrow says:
I too would highly recommend Beck's "Expecting Adam." Lots of substance. Little mush.
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