This week, we feature our very first book review.
At CaringBridge, we’re all about finding ways to care for and support each other, both at CaringBridge.org and on our Amplifier Hub, our online volunteer community. And we know that support can come in many forms — including the recommendation of a thoughtful, inspiring book.
CaringBridge volunteer Liz DeKlavon recently finished Bloom by Kelle Hampton and found that the author’s depiction of her family’s health journey, and the important role her personal network played throughout it, reflected what many have experienced through CaringBridge. This is why we chose to share it with you here. We’d love to hear what you think!
When Kelle first learned that her daughter, Nella Cordelia, had Down syndrome, she had just given birth. The journey she took to overcome the grief, and later accept the beauty that accompanied it, is the basis of Bloom, her first book.
She opens the story with Nella’s birth, an experience that captures her deep-seated desire to “suck the marrow of life.” Kelle had planned everything perfectly, from the “party” favors to the ambience of the hospital room to the boatload of friends present for Nella’s delivery. What she hadn’t planned was her shock upon seeing her daughter’s almond eyes, a tell-tale sign of Nella’s diagnosis. As everyone around her celebrated, Kelle struggled to make sense of it all.
In the early chapters of Bloom, Kelle brings you up-to-speed on life in the Hampton home: moving to Florida from Michigan in her early 20’s; meeting her husband, Brett, and falling in love; becoming stepmother to his two sons, and soon, a mother to their daughter Lainey — a dream she’s had since childhood.
Friendship at its Finest
We also learn that she is a diehard when it comes to her relationships. So the story isn’t complete without The Net, a group of women from all walks of life who know and love Kelle throughout her journey. They would do anything for her, and vice-versa. It’s this camaraderie, a depiction of friendship at its finest, which gives hope to the story.
While Kelle’s optimism may seem too much, we accept that it is both part of her personality and a salve she applies to her pain, willing it away with positivity. However, you also come to appreciate when she decides it’s time to be vulnerable, expressing honesty about the unknowns, questions and fears surrounding Nella’s diagnosis.
The Journey Continues
All in all, Bloom captures the complexity of a mother’s grief, the support of her network, and glimpses of hope along the way. When Kelle begins to accept Nella’s diagnosis, to the point of speaking at conventions and walking to raise awareness for Down syndrome, you can’t help but want to join the Net and cheer her on.
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