Introducing the Virtual Book Club! Bloom, by Kelle Hampton

February 21, 2013

I am thrilled to announce a new feature here on – the Virtual Book Club.


Last summer I had the pleasure of getting to know one of my neighbors; the lovely Alison Cady. We had never really sat down and talked before. There was a block party, adult beverages were involved, we realized we both love books, and next thing we knew we were geeky out on authors and “You have to read…!” proclamations and dreams of a “serious” book club. It was great.

And then Alison and her husband up and moved across the country. The buttheads. Something about an amazing job and a stunning city and close family? Harumph.

Anyway, being the book lovers that we are, we decided to read and discuss a few books from afar. Apart. Yet together! And the first book we picked was a phenomenal one.

But before I get to the book, I want to formally introduce you to Alison.

17 lovely readers of mine? This is Alison.
Alison? Please say hello to my 17 lovely readers.

In her own words: “I spend my days chasing my ever inquisitive 13 month old daughter and my evenings working as a contract marketer for various companies helping them to expand their online presence. I reside in Seattle and am passionate about reading, running, my family and friends, red wine and chocolate!”

Thanks for being here, Alison!

Without further ado, here are our thoughts on Bloom.

Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected
Kelle Hampton

Alison Cady (AC): I came across Kelle’s blog about 6 months ago and fell in love.  I would read and read post after post and feel inspired, empowered and so full of love.  I went all the way back to the beginning and what I found (and loved) is that her writing has never changed.  Before she became famous she was still enthralled with being a mother and has always had a unicorn and rainbow attitude. 

Annie Sorensen (AS): I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I *totally* know what you mean when you say you fell in love with Kelle’s writing. There’s just something about her words. The way they are strung together – there is something more behind hers. The emotion, the strength, the love all literally leap off the computer screen and wrap their arms around my neck. I read many other blogs, at least half a dozen on a daily basis, but none make me feel what Enjoying the Small Things does. I savor new posts. I see one pop up and I immediately close my computer. I might go put on that pair of socks I’ve been meaning to for over an hour because my feet are cold, warm up my coffee, adjust the pillow on my chair, take a breath, and relax. I prepare to read them, to savor them, to soak them in. Because I feel like that’s what they deserve. Preparation.
AC: I couldn’t wait to start reading Bloom.  I wanted to learn more about this woman who could be so vulnerable in her writing, but still be so authentic and true to herself.  The first chapter I read slowly and meticulously like I was afraid I would miss out on something if I read too fast.  At first I was a bit annoyed with how quickly she would jump from one thing to another.  She would be right in the middle of one story, and would fan back to something else to give the first story more validity and I felt like the flow was a bit off.  But after that first chapter I didn’t notice it as much and I feel like the book continued on a chronological path. 

AS: Interesting, I didn’t notice the flow or jumping of topics at all! I read the first few chapters pleasantly surprised that Kelle was going into detail about her childhood and early adulthood. I hadn’t expected that. I was thrilled about the idea of reading the book, even when I thought it was simply an extended version of her last couple years with Nella and her family. The inclusion of her background was a nice addition to the story, and gave more weight to why she is the love-filled, emotional person she is today. I felt like after reading about her past, I understood more of what she was describing about her present.
AC: I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any mother.  The way she puts herself out there and shares every emotion is refreshing and nice to hear as a new mom.  I love the way she loves her children with such ferocity – it made me want to be a better mom.  I was very impressed with her writing.  I’ve read memoirs before from ‘writers’ who have no business writing a book, but I really enjoyed her style and think that is one of the best attributes of the book.   I just loved how relatable she made herself, she put it all out there – the good, the bad and the ugly – and it helped me to connect with her and really absorb into her story.  

AS: Recommend it to any mother. For sure. The honesty and the putting it all out there. Yes and yes. Couldn’t agree more! I have also read other memoirs, many by moms, who make their lives sound like nothing but roses and lollipops. You know what, who wants to be that perfect? What about embracing who we are and loving ourselves and our lives for the very fact that they are NOT perfect? I kind of like my imperfections, thank you very much. I would totally agree that that part of the way Kelle writes, both in the book and on the blog, are endearing. I found myself shaking my head in agreement several times to her thoughts. Yes, we aren’t perfect, and yes, we love our kids ferociously, and yes, we are awesome anyway! It’s almost like she has a confidence that very few women writers have that says, This is who I am! And I am confident in saying that I’m not always 100% sure of who I am or how I mother but you know what, I’m okay with that.

AC: One thing I would have liked to see more of was the relationship between her and Brett.  As a new parent myself, one of the more challenging aspects was adjusting our marriage to include a new person into our normal team of two.  We had to figure out our new roles and work together more than ever.  I would have liked to hear more about their challenges, especially with a special needs child, how it affected their marriage and how they worked through it.

AS: I would have loved to see more of the development of their relationship, too. She mentioned a couple times how “she wasn’t sure” what Brett was thinking right after Nella’s birth and I wondered to myself, you didn’t? Didn’t you talk about it? That seemed odd to me. Maybe they talked more about it but Kelle didn’t share the private details, or maybe that’s how they work things out, kind of within themselves. I think it would have been incredibly helpful to other mothers to not only talk about the spousal relationship after Lainey, their first child together, was born, but after Nella, too. I would have liked to see more about what she thinks of their future. What they have planned and what she’s excited about and what they’re worried about and everything. I felt like the story ended abruptly. Kind of like, well my manuscript is due tomorrow and I’ve written about my life up until today, so I better stop! Perhaps this leaves her open to another memoir, we’ll see. :) 

AC: Overall I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.  It is a quick and emotional read and when it ended I found myself sad and wanted more.  Luckily I can still follow her through her blog!

AS: I would say 4.5 out of 5 stars. As much as I nitpick, man, did I love this book. Just like her blog, I savored it. I didn’t just grab the book when I had thirty seconds to read a page or two. I carved out quiet time with a hot drink and a warm blanket to soak in her words. Thinking about reading it makes me smile. I rarely read books for a second time, but this one might just be opened again.

See? That was fun.

You can find Alison on Twitter. Please stop by and say hello.

I hope you liked the format of our review, and our thoughts on Bloom. We thought this would be a convenient, interesting, and unique way for two women in opposite parts of the country to share in the experience of absorbing the same book at the same time. We hope to have more virtual book club reviews for you in the near future. Up next on our docket: Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn. (Insert ohh’s and ahh’s here.) We would be thrilled to have you join us!

So, my dear readers, what’d you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

In book geekery,
AS (and AC!)

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