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Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected--A Memoir Hardcover – April 3, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 281 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Bloom is one of the most emotionally stirring books I’ve ever read…. 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…reminds us that life may not always look pretty or perfect, but it is always beautiful…. 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)

“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)

“A constitutionally positive person…Hampton makes a convincing argument that grief and disappointment can be transformed into compassion and joy.” (People (3 stars))

#11 New York Times Bestseller (New York Times)

A USA Today Bestseller (USA Today)

“Bloom is not only about a particular young mother working through the place of hurt …it is about all of us…. [A] powerful meditation on loss, perspective, challenge and opportunity. Give it to anyone you know who is hurting.” (Fort Myers Florida Weekly)

“In Bloom, a searing and brave portrait of her baby’s first year, Hampton opens up about her fears…jubilation, and…‘the throbbing pain of losing what I had expected.’ Filled with personal photos from the delivery room through Nella’s first birthday, Bloom gives…new meaning to the term ‘open book.’” (BookPage)

Winner of 2012 Mom’s Choice Silver Award, Biographies & Memoirs (Mom's Choice Awards)

From the Back Cover

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.

From the outside looking in, Kelle Hampton had the perfect life: a beautiful two-year-old daughter, a loving husband, a thriving photography career, and great friends. When she 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.

With lyrical prose and gorgeous full-color photography, Bloom takes readers on a wondrous journey through Nella's first year of life—a gripping, hilarious, and intensely poignant trip of transformation in which a mother learns that perfection comes in all different shapes. It is a story about embracing life and really living it, of being fearless and accepting difference, of going beyond constricting definitions of beauty, and of the awesome power of perspective. As Kelle writes, "There is us. Our Family. We will embrace this beauty and make something of it. We will hold our precious gift and know that we are lucky."


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 3.4.2012 edition edition (April 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062045032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062045034
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (281 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #441,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Did I read a completely different book than other reviewers here? Bloom does not impart "unexpected wisdom" and it isn't a truly "transformative" memoir. It isn't the triumphant and inspiring look at overcoming challenges that I expected to read.

Hampton is shattered - paralyzed - by her daughter's Down syndrome diagnosis, because it puts a wrench into the blueprint she'd created for the perfect life. Rather than "a love story between mother and child," Bloom is like reading a 278 page transcript from a counseling session where Hampton tries to justify her mistakes and figure out how to love herself and her "new" life. I guess the reader is supposed to forgive her as she forgives herself for her struggling and selfishness. I hoped while reading the book that Hampton would come to some significant realizations by the end, but it didn't really happen. She reveals that she isn't particularly proud of some of the things she's done (or thought) in the past, but she makes no apologies and basically says that she has good intentions and is starting to learn, so she chooses to rock her life and doesn't care what anyone else thinks of her. She never really faces that Down syndrome is a part of her life.

I don't understand all the hype about Hampton, who comes off in this book as insulated, self absorbed, immature and spoiled. In fairness, she is creative and a talented photographer, and her love for her family is clear. But Hampton revels in center stage throughout the book as she explores her own slowly evolving "transformation." In the end, she realizes that Down syndrome is not going to ruin her life, and that she may be able to face a different future than the one she wanted and planned.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I recognize that I am giving this book a low rating and I apologize for hurt feelings. However, after reading the reviews and ordering the book (and as someone who has not read Kellie's blog), I expected this memoir to contain more information about her child.

This book is heavily focused on Kellie processing her feelings about her baby's Down Syndrome. I felt as if the book was 80% "I am so shocked/sad/adjusting my expectations/crying" + "my amazing friends came and told me they loved my baby just as she was"

After I read her book, I visited her blog and read that. I preferred her blog. Her mature perspective on her family was brilliant. Her shocked perspective as captured by the first year of her daughter's life made me sad. I think if you are a long time reader of her site, you probably feel like you are friends with her you will love it. If you are new to her site and looking for a book about raising a child with DS, I suggest you read Road Map to Holland: How I Found My Way Through My Son's First Two Years With Down Syndrome.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Book Review, "Bloom" by Kelle Hampton. Reviewed by Meriah Nichols of With a Little Moxie ([...])

I had arrived in a comfortable place with my feelings regarding Kelle Hampton. I admired the money she raised for NDSS (assuming, of course, that the money isn't going to padded salaries but rather to assisting individuals with Down syndrome). Happy that she had toned down the seemingly endless tea-parties on her popular blog, Enjoying the Small Things, and had turned some attention to Down syndrome. Because, as you see, she had been lifted high by the Ds community and had accepted leadership but wasn't stepping up much - besides to stand behind podiums and accept awards.

It was a nice spot, that comfortable spot. It was warm and friendly and I rather liked tapping in to her blog from time to time to see what was new.

Imagine then my astonishment at cracking open her memoir, Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected and discovering almost immediately that it must have been written by an entire other.

Using broad strokes full of sweeping generalizations, worn platitudes, exhausted cliches and sophomoric adjectives, Kelle paints a picture of her life. Unlike Monet however, the painting does not become a masterpiece when viewed from a distance. Rather, it's becomes a mash-up of gloss, painted thick but smelling of tempera - which, when stormed upon, will run.

She starts her book off with her "perfect" life - a life full of friends, good times, fun, and things. Then she has Nella, her daughter with Down syndrome and she undergoes great pain and grief before transforming herself from someone who likes to have a good time and party while wearing great clothes, drunk - to someone who likes to have a good time and drink while wearing great clothes.
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