You know it and I know it: Kelle Hampton is hugely popular. She writes marvelous fluff on her blog, Enjoying the Small Things. I think she is an adroit blogger, able to weave remarkable bits of fippery in and around drop-dead awesome photos. The result? A top-notch blog.
A top-notch and popular blogger does not, however, make for a good book author. In fact, I thought Bloom was one of the worst books I've ever read. The reviews said it was "raw and honest" and I thought that was just a new way of saying "really badly written." Moreover, Kelle Hampton has a pretty charmed life over there in Florida. The birth of her daughter with Down syndrome kicked her hard, but… her daughter had no health issues and Kelle had a ton of support – both items that most parents of children with Down syndrome can't relate all that well to.
Here, therefore, are my Top 5 Recommendations for books other than Bloom to read for the new parent, books that have much for new parents to relate to, and books that personally helped me a hell of a lot.
1. Expecting Adam, by Martha Beck
This one knocked my socks off.
One of my all time faves, ever, for any book category.
Martha Beck is hilarious with a deep, compelling story. She mixes the spiritual a lot within her memoir – but since I'm of the spiritual bent, it worked well for me.
Note: it's spiritual, not religious; Martha dropped out of the Mormon church quite a while before her son was conceived. She writes a lot about coming to terms with having a child with an intellectual disability (like me, she had a prenatal diagnosis and also like me, she considered abortion), but does so utilizing elegant prose, well crafted sentences, turns of phrase and liberal layers of humor and wit.
It's a well-crafted tome clearly written by a very intelligent, well educated woman.
I loved this book. I have re-read this book something like 3 times.
Kathryn Lynard Soper is a practicing Mormon and went through a crisis of faith when she had her son prematurally, diagnosed at birth.
This book is raw, it is honest – and those are not euphemisms for "badly written"; because this story is skillfully told, unfolding with grace. I loved the said rawness and the honesty – about her struggle with faith, with her church. With finding herself and the love for her son despite his many medical issues, post-birth.
She writes of keeping her family whole, caring for her other (5 – or was it 6?) children while dealing with her son's issues, with her faith and with being completely overwhelmed.
It was actually when Kathryn was dealing with all of the issues described above that she saw the need for a compilation of stories by and for parents of kids with Down syndrome.
She collected those stories and edited them. The result – a must-read.
There is something in there for everyone, and it is tremendously comforting to know that no matter what you feel – you are not alone. There is a tribe for you to connect with.
There are people out there who understand.
Gifts 2 is also dynamite.
George writes on par with Martha Beck – he's funny but make no mistake: this is not a light book. This is a book contains a plethora of sentences that are so richly strung, they make you stop and mull over them for minutes, days.
He's definitely for the analytical types out there, the type that enjoys tearing apart history, thinking of underlying meanings. His daughter also had some health issues, which he speaks of in addition to his own struggles with depression and having a bi-racial identity.
I wasn't crazy about this book when I first read it, thinking she was just trying too hard, that her sentences weren't flowing the way I thought they should. But you know what?
A lot of people could relate to this story.
And maybe it is good that it's on the lighter side of writing, it's easy for anyone to read. The premature birth of her twin boys led to the surprise diagnosis of one of her boys. He had a number of health issues, which she grapples with along with trying to deal with having a child with Down syndrome – and the accompanying prejudices she encounters, her struggles through small town Montana life and a child with special needs.
6. A Good and Perfect Gift, by Amy Julia Becker
Yeah, I know, I said "5 Books", but I have to include this one too – so consider it a bonus!
What I – non Christian that I am – liked was that Amy Julia is the type of hard-thinking, deeply-believing Christian that goes way past the superficial in her faith – down to the actual application of teachings of Christ.
She does a lot of that – faith analysis and application – in her book and frankly, I enjoyed it.
For more reviews, check out the T21 Writer's Alliance.