Friday, November 7, 2008

Book Review - Multiple Bles8ings

Submitted for post by Scarfoot

I purchased the book Multiple Blessings: Surviving to Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets because I was curious what the Gosselins had to say, and, to be honest, because I needed to spend a few more dollars on to get free shipping! I've been a long time watcher of the show, and a frequent online reader about this family. I don't know honestly where I fall in the "Gosselin lover/hater" debate. I was hoping that by reading this book, it would fill in some of the gaps that I was curious about: Kate's ugly behavior at times, where the extended family was, and other controversy that seems to follow Jon and Kate.

The book is written almost exclusively from Kate's point of view. While Jon and Beth Carson are listed as authors, there is virtually no narrative from either one of them. Kate uses this book to document the creation of the Gosselin 10, as well as a way to discuss the Gosselin's Christian faith. Each chapter begins with applicable scripture, and Kate mentions her faith in God throughout the book. The end of the book recaps the many blessings that God provided for Jon, Kate and the children as their family stretched and grew. I was somewhat disappointed to discover that the book is a documentation of the birth and first year (or so) of the sextuplets. In fact, the book makes no mention of their television show or work with TLC. There are some sweet photographs sprinkled throughout the text, and a copy of Kate's handwritten journal from her days in the hospital.

As Kate recounts the story of the conception and birth of the sextuplets, she is very honest about the ugly or difficult aspects of her pregnancy and life after the babies were born. She cites some of the issues that I had read about her including the conception of the sextuplets (No, she did not go home with over stimulated ovaries and have sex to try and conceive sextuplets on purpose, it was a clinical experience in a doctor's office.), her behavior as she came home and saw the new nursery decorations volunteers had done for her (She realizes that she came across as ungrateful and mean, and was apologetic. She was also very hormonal and stressed out at the time.), or even treating Hannah differently than the other sextuplets (She readily admits that she bonded first with Hannah, that she is not perfect, but that she loves all of her children equally and yet differently). Kate mentions her mothers and sisters frequently. It appears that Kate had a close relationship with her mother at least until Kate moved into the Ronald McDonald House. I don't recall her mentioning her mother again after that point in the narrative.

Watching the show, it was clear that Kate struggles with control in her life. I believe that she is a woman who is very easily distressed. I feel a small amount of pity for a woman who grasps desperately for control of all aspects of her life, and then is thrown into an incredibly stressful situation. After finishing this book, I view Kate as someone who was struggling to accept the fact that their life was far from easy or normal, far from her control, and yet loving these "creatures" that turned her life upside down. Does this mean that I am defending Kate's decisions? Not necessarily. A few times throughout the book, I found myself thinking "Oh my goodness, Kate, that was a really ugly thing to say/do." However, without Kate even explaining her thoughts or emotions at the time of the children's birth, it is obvious that stresses and hormone fluctuations made Kate appear even more demanding and pushy than usual. Keeping that in mind, I honestly can't say how I would react if I came home to a house that felt out of control to me, having too many children to juggle, a husband who was unemployed, a terrifying fear that my children would get sick, and the death of a beloved father in law. All of these things complicated a situation that was already incredibly complex and stressful. My opinion has always been that Kate is a very fearful person. I believe that she constantly worries about what "could happen" and this causes her to do things (such as the show) as a way to protect the future of their children, and causes her to be a very tense person who has a hard time relaxing and enjoying life. However, I'm straying from the book by sharing my views.

After finishing the book, I have not been pushed into one "camp" or the other. It was a mildly interesting read, and did help me to "connect the dots" from the show. I did appreciate knowing more about what Kate and Jon believe, and seeing that their faith is a larger part of their life. I appreciated Kate's honesty about their difficulties, and her positive view of the future. I did finish the book with a sense of sadness that her extended family appears to no longer be a regular part of their lives. I sincerely hope this can be mended. And hey, the book helped me get free shipping, so I'm a happy camper!
Please, no anonymous posting. Anonymous posts will be rejected. It makes it too hard to respond to people. Please pick a name and stay with it


A Mom-ynous said...

Interesting. Thank you for the review.

Now that you talk about your observations of her struggle with control as she rights in her book...stuff is beginning to make sense for me as I have the same issue (even though I don't have sextuplets).

I know her behavior has been callously judged and that the appearance that they are "improving" is really just pr and damage control. Not too mention, that it was joked that she must have been drugged last evening.

Well--I am drugged. I am on anxiety meds. I have been in therapy for issues with anger and control since mid year.

If you took a snapshot of me prior to meds and therapy and then now--

It would look like I was undergoing some serious damage control...but I'm not. Except to the extent that I realized that I Cannot control the world but I Can learn to control myself.

Perhaps this is what is happening with Kate and this can be a good thing.

I am not any kind of licensed psychatrist or therapist--but I don't think Kate can act this change. No matter what PR tells her to do--she wouldn't be able to do this convincingly unless it were really taking place.

Her V-Smile audio was horrendous from an acting standpoint--she sounded very unenthused. And she was probably being compensated to do that and wasn't able to do it convincingly in my opinion.

I bring that up--b/c that was an opportunity to act and I didn't believe one word she said b/c it wasn't her words.

If she can't do a 30 second would she convincingly "act" as though she had changed her tune and was trying to be a better person if she wasn't really doing so?

It's impossible! (I have experience to back that up, but would rather not share!)

In any case--what you post in your book review...provides further evidence to me.

She knows how she is--she had issues in the past prior to kids and then with the kids...that explains to me a lot of what we have seen on television.

It makes me pause to consider that her actions affect the kids more than the cameras. In the end, this show could be the best thing that could have happened to the family b/c it does reduce some burdens in their life and has exposed herself to her disposition to see that she needed some therapeutic help. Her change is so obvious and I think that is great!

Kelley said...

I've always been on Kate's side about the nursery. Regardless of how she reacted, putting together the nursery is how a mother prepares the nest for her children. It would have freaked me out to come home and have my house decorated for me. It bothered me when my mother gave her oppinion on where the crib should be placed and that I really didn't need a rocker in the baby's room. And don't get me started on the "I love Grandma" onesie that my husband's mother sent. And My baby isn't even mine yet.

I feel for kate, it is so hard to be an abrasive person. I am one. I know. I always mean well and I have a very loving personality, but it often gets lost in the other part. People who know me know that I'm actually nice. But people who don't often think I'm a bitch.

indianprincess said...

Man, now I have to spend my money on this book. I love books and I didn't have any reason to buy the book. I watch the show and lurk around on some blog sites concerning Jon and Kate but that's about it. Now I feel like buying the book in a way supporting the Family but now I'm interested. Thanks for the insight.

Cheerio said...

There's a nice picture of Kate's mom and dad ("Grandma and Grandpa") in the book. I really like the fact that, as part of her book dedication she wrote: "Also to Grandma and Grandpa - The truest examples of God's unconditional love." (I'm just assuming that "Grandma and Grandpa" are Kate's mom and dad, but maybe the kids call someone else "Grandma and Grandpa." It's hard to tell since Jon and Kate are kind of private about their families.)

Sandra said...

The grandma and grandpa pictured in the book were Kate's grandma and grandpa (not her parents).
Thanks for the review :)

merryway said...

I would be interested to know if Kate talks about any postpartum depression. I've been curious as to how your body would crash out after so much effort and the mental stress. I was going to pick it up if it had any mention of her childhood, but I guess not. I grew up, actually more liked lived in a the same denomination as Kate. I went to the church's school 5 days w/Bible class everyday, chapel on Fridays, Sunday a.m. + p.m. services with choir in between and Wed night youth services. A lot of time, the weekends were youth activities. It was very hard on girls. We were educated mostly to get married to ministers and be helpmates. You're repeatedly told to strive to better perfect yourself. On a daily basis, you feel inadequate and out of control because you can never reach the bar. They've loosened up a little bit, but they use to be more restrictive of women and our roles were clear. Basically, you're secluded and controlled. PK boys were wild, PK girls are usually like Kate. I wasn't a PK, my late grandmother was a pastor in this denomination. As an adult you can be fearful of the world and new things. A lot of the women I knew are the control freak type and also talk to their husbands the same we have seen Kate speak to Jon. I was surprised to learn how religious the G's are, because we only see a tad. Just another way to show that what we're seeing isn't their whole life.

scarfoot said...

Yes, as Sandra stated, the photographs and dedication in the book are made to Kate's grandparents, the children's great grandparents. Merryway, I agree with you. I think there is tremendous pressure on the children of pastors. Dependent on the denomination, it can be even more taxing. Kate is by far perfect. She is an adult who can change her own actions. I certainly can understand, however, that her background has affected her, both positively and negatively (as for us all).

MommyZinger said...

I really appreciated your description of Kate's control issues. It made me empathize with her and understand more why she behaves the way she does. It is too bad her critics don't try to do the same because I believe Kate when she says the criticism hurts. How can it not. I am afraid at some point it will break her if it hasn't already. And I hope the haters feel her pain.
I agree with Kelley about the nursery. I just don't like people invading my space even if they mean well. Call it territorial. I can't imagine how it would feel right after having six babies and having all this attention from the community. It would be too much to deal with post partum.
I will probably not buy the book. I'll just wait until I can get it from the library. But great review!

BEE said...

I too read the book and enjoyed your review of it.

Regarding the home makeover and the nursery. Kate talks about it in great detail in the book. She says that before the makeover was completed that there was no mention of making over the nursery or the twins bed room. So that came as a complete shock to them.

Also, the first time they saw their house after the makeover was also when their reaction was being taped. It also was the first time they had traveled with all the kids and the first time bringing the sextuplets home.

Kate says that on the drive one of the boys was not looking good, I believe she said his color was bad, so she had to remove him from the carseat. So as they drove up to the house they were not only stressed about the traveling with 8 kids plus all the volunteers, but were concerned about their son.

They were also met at their house by a production company that was not concerned about the welfare of their kids (the company wanted to leave the kids in the bedroom unsupervised etc).

Kate says that she knows how ungrateful and rude she came across and that she was extrememly sorry.

Reading the book just proved to me even more that people that post the so called "truths" on the internet are not 100% correct. It is hard to determine what is true, what is grossly exagerated or what is someone's perception.

I also just want to say, that even though the book does touch on some of the negative issues, like the home makeover etc, it is also very uplifting and has some great stories in it! I thought that Kate did a great job!

I wouldn't be suprised if we see another book in a few years talking about the show etc....I am hoping anyways!

floridamom said...

Thank you for your review. It did put a different light on the nursery incident. People sometimes get carried away in their zeal to help and forget to find out what the person they are helping really wants or needs.

I do believe if Kate wasn't the control freak that she is, the show would not be successful. Unfortunately, fame changes people, and you can see changes in Kate since the first episode. She seemed a lot more genuine at the beginning. I'll never understand the couch interviews where she is so critical of Jon. It has been my experience, that people like Kate (that are controlling and critizing) are the ones that can't take it directed on them.

I do think the critics that harp on everything she does as a mother, or question if she loves ones more than others, are just wrong. I certainly am not a perfect parent, and am glad some of my worst parenting moments weren't caught on film. It is obvious that she loves her children.

No matter how much help she has or doesn't have, raising eight children would be a daunting task. Kate just appeared happier when they weren't so famous. I guess there is a price for everything.

Nina Bell said...


Thanks for a well written review. I am not going to buy the book myself but I might check it out one day from the library. I thought I would have no interest in reading the book until I read your review.

cali-mom said...

Thanks for your review, I'm more intersted now in reading the book than ever before. I'm going to pick it up this weekend.

Anya said...

Count me as another who is more interested after reading your review.

It appears to contain some honest self-reflection and frankness. It's hard not to admire that. I appreciate the context and the fact that is is coming directly from her as opposed to sisters of sister-in-laws. Yes, Kate will bring her *own* perspective of events, but so far what I have heard shows a willingness to accept that she has made some mistakes.

Anyway, lord knows I don't need another book, but I may just have to pick it up. If nothing else, so the book sales will be good (yeah, my one purchase is SO important LOL) and the haters will have more to whine about....

Anya said...

Kelley said..."I've always been on Kate's side about the nursery. Regardless of how she reacted, putting together the nursery is how a mother prepares the nest for her children. It would have freaked me out to come home and have my house decorated for me. It bothered me when my mother gave her oppinion on where the crib should be placed and that I really didn't need a rocker in the baby's room. And don't get me started on the "I love Grandma" onesie that my husband's mother sent. And My baby isn't even mine yet."

I really agree with this perspective. I think if more woman were honest with themselves instead of wanting to sit in judgment over every one of Kate's actions, they would see her POV.

Your comment about the Grandma onesie made me laugh, but I also totally *get* what you are saying. Sometimes people think they are being helpful, but they are really just stepping on toes.

Nina Bell said...

This is kind of interesting

It is a press release stating "GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., October 23, 2008 – After just one week of sales, Multiple Blessings (Zondervan, 2008) by Jon and Kate Gosselin with Beth Carson has reached The New York Times and the USA Today Bestseller lists. The book, currently ranked 5th on The New York Times list and 31st overall on USA Today’s Best-selling books list tells the amazing story of how the Gosselins survived the overwhelming odds and the emotional roller coaster of birthing and raising two sets of multiples — twins and sextuplets — in three years."

nomoredrama said...

You have me curious to read the book now. I want to see what Kate confirms about the criticism and what is true.

Mom said...

Scarfoot -
Thank you so much for the review. I have to get to my Borders and get a copy. I hope as people get to reading it, the comments will continue.

DerbyDem said...

So I just ordered this book on Amazon because the positive reviews have piqued my interest. However, I feel that SOME people have crossed the line (my line) when it comes to the "controversy". To me, it's one thing if you're on a blog spewing off your insane beliefs about how Jon & Kate are using their kids like a sweatshop factory. It's another to go onto a reputable website such as Amazon and write this stuff in the book reviews section (instead of reviewing the book!!!) I use this area as a tool to help me decide to buy books and other items and I think it's ridiculous they've taken it to this level! I know I might sound ridiculous being so upset about this but I love me some Amazon and to me that's going too far!

scarfoot said...

I wondered if the jeering crowd would follow the Gosselins to the Amazon website. I'm sure there are plenty of comments there about how by purchasing the book you are supporting exploitation, etc.

For those of you who are interested in reading the book, but not sure about purchasing it, I would recommend checking it out at your local library. It's not (to quote my students), like, the BEST book ever, but it is interesting and does fill in some background information about their family. It was an easy read, and it did remind me that there is always more to a story than what you hear.

DerbyDem said...

I'm more interested in her opinion on how things transpired. Sometimes I just need a don't-make-me-think book.

Anya said...

Scarfoot said..."It's not (to quote my students), like, the BEST book ever, but it is interesting and does fill in some background information about their family."

LOL! I'll keep my expectations in check! :-)

Truthfully, I know I'm petty, but I am just going to buy it because I figure any dollar that goes the Gosselins way annoys the haters and that's just fun!

I saw Nina's post about the book being on the bestseller list. Is that why I can't find it at Borders? I am trying Barnes and Noble tomorrow.

Derbydem, I agree with you about those with an agenda going on the Amazon site and writing a bunch of bogus reviews without reading the book. Tacky. The purpose of allowing customer reviews (as I understand it) isn't to air personal grievances. Of course, they did the same thing when TLC released Seasons 1 & 2 on DVD. They never let up, do they?

Guinevere said...

Thanks for the review, scarfoot. I really want to pick this up this weekend.

I think Amazon reviews have lost some legitimacy because of this kind of stuff. I think it goes on a lot with political books - the "other side" trashes the book without having read it. I swear, is there no nugget of info or whisper about the Gosselins ANYWHERE on the web that these people won't sniff out and then overrun?

HBIC8u said...


My opinions of Kate are very much in line with yours. It's not easy to be an anxious person anyway(believe me, I know), but to be thrown into such a stressful must have been an extremely difficult.

kelly said...

I feel for kate, it is so hard to be an abrasive person. I am one. I know. I always mean well and I have a very loving personality, but it often gets lost in the other part. People who know me know that I'm actually nice. But people who don't often think I'm a bitch.

Girl, I can totally relate to that:-)

Anonymous said...

I would have had a fit if someone redecorated my own house and repainted my own walls. Just saying.

Thanks for the review.

ductapeovermouth said...

I would have had a fit if someone redecorated my own house and repainted my own walls. Just saying.

I have read bits and pieces of the "Remodel". I would think that since this was a television show, Jon and Kate would have had to read the "releases" and "stipulations", etc. But then again, Jon was pissed that he received a 1099 for the remodel, stating he thought "free meant free" (on the Triplet Connection Board). People on "Trading Spaces" are not always pleased with the outcome on that show. If I were Kate, if I knew I would MAYBE not be happy with the outcome, should have declined.

It's not as if these people showed up at her house one day and did things without her consent. JMO.

DerbyDem said...

I swear, is there no nugget of info or whisper about the Gosselins ANYWHERE on the web that these people won't sniff out and then overrun?

Nope, and if some blogs had a good marketing eye, it'd probably be in their best interest to write an interesting post about the show someday. They'd get foot traffic from Google alerts and might retain some readers for their other topics. :-)

I'm going to wait until I read the chapter about the remodel until I post an opinion. However, I can see both sides from what I've heard. I can see people thinking she was ungrateful and I can see a huge hormonal plunge from just having six babies taken out of you and feeling out of control of everything when you're a control freak. I've done it before and I haven't even been pregnant!

Daisy said...

Scarfoot, thanks for your awesome review.

Ductape, I don't think Kate could have forseen what would have happened with the remodel in her condition and situation at the time. She knew that her house was going to be worked on, but not the twins or tups rooms. It was a complete shock that these rooms were redone. Those were the rooms she was upset about. She really liked the twins room the way it was and was disappointed when it was changed.

She was happy that the garage was made into the master bedroom.

The production company insisted on filming the day they were arriving home for the first time with tups. It was hectic and there were a lot of people with them. Her post birth hormones were affecting her.

Now I know why she says they were misunderstood. The person that caught her remark about the house and published it in the Reading Eagle didn't know the entire situation and everything was taken out of context.

DerbyDem said...

I'm very particular about where things are put so I can remember them. My mom used to "clean" my room all of the time when I'd go to camp and it would drive me nuts when I got home because I didn't know where anything was. Once in college, my roommate thought it would be a good idea to clean my room for me. I flipped out when I heard of her plan (luckily she didn't go through with it). I"m not saying she was completely in the right for freaking out, but I can definitely see how it'd be unnerving.

ductapeovermouth said...

I don't think Kate could have forseen what would have happened with the remodel in her condition and situation at the time.

I understand that she may have been in a precarious situation at the time, but I would think since she either overlooked the "stipulations" or "misunderstoon" them, she would be in a more "my bad" frame of mind - then freaking out over it. If the the show redid rooms that she did not agree to - then that would be grounds to "fix" what they had "ruined".

In regards to the "misunderstood" part of the interviews - are we to believe that EVERY interview they gave at the time were taken out of context? That was brought up in the Reading Eagle. JMO

scarfoot said...

Well, this is Kate we're talking about. "Freak out" should be her middle name. I would also freak out about my house being redecorated, and I don't panic nearly as much as she does.

CeeCee said...

You would think that a control freak like Kate would be hesitant to agree to having even a small remodel of her house done without her input.

If it was being filmed, I don't understand why it was necessary to do it then unless it was a set-up to see how badly Kate would react.

(I suspect that Figure 8 also creates situations where Kate will react badly since there are a sizeable number of people who appear to only watch the show in order to see Kate freak out.)

ductapeovermouth said...

I would also freak out about my house being redecorated, and I don't panic nearly as much as she does.

Knowing this, would you have allowed the remodel in the first place?

texas mommy said...

This is the first time that I have ever posted to a blog. I want to thank you so much for your review of the book.

When I first read about the hate and negative postings, I was shocked. I look at things from a different perspective because I am a 37 year old wife and Mommy of two battling a rare and terminal liver disease for which I have already received two liver transplants. Like Kate, I have endured months on end in a hospital bed and while I HAVE DEEPLY APPRECIATED "help" provided to our family, there were times that the "help" made me feel inadequate and detatched from my family life...almost like I was an outsider to my own family. And while my precious husband of 16 years has done everything in his power to make me feel comfortable and "welcome home" after my long hospitalizations, the feeling of "detachment" is just something that takes time and prayer to conquer successfully.

I am really glad that your blog exists. I think that the other ones will crumble on their own.

Lizabeth said...

I have just finished reading Multiple Blessings, and feel as many of you do about how it helped me see a more clear view of who Kate is and why she handles things certain ways. One instance that stood out to me was when she described having so many volunteers watching the sextuplets all the time, and how it forced her to give up control. Being someone who tends to err on the control freak side, I can totally understand this. To have preemies who are gawked at, then have the high turnover of volunteers (Kate mentions that many came just to see the babies, and after the detailed instructions on how to feed a preemie-- which I know is not easy, since my nephew was a preemie and had reflux-- they would disappear) I can only imagine the frustration and difficulty being open.

I was also encouraged at how she mentions instances where she and Jon, in the midst of financial stress and complete physical meltdown, were still able to laugh and put things into perspective. There were a few stories that reminded me of the 'organizing the garage' episode, where she and Jon fight and bicker about what box will fit on the top shelf of their new storage unit, only to have the one Jon wanted get stuck, leaving them both laughing and choosing a compromise. Life is tough, but knowing their marriage is strong and seeing how they have both been able to grow as a couple was a big encouragement.

Just my two cents-- I really enjoyed reading this book!

(lizziemae7, but too lazy to re-log in under my OpenID)

fancastfan said...

Hi, we are big fans of Jon and Kate Plus 8 at too, and thought your readers might like to know that if they want to catch up on some classic episodes, or just see what all the fuss is about, beginning on Monday, 11/10 we will be putting up some special episodes, all totally free of course - we will have 6 shows (5 are the most popular shows throughout the seasons and 1 is from the current season where Jon and Kate renew their wedding vows).
Jim (for Fancast)