So, I have read the much-awaited Multiple Blessings book by Jon and Kate of the famous Jon and Kate Plus Eight TV show.
My thoughts? First, I would read a library copy rather than buying the book. If you’re a faithful viewer of the show, and I assume most who read the book would be, you really won’t learn a lot that you don’t already know. Don’t buy it for the photos – all the photos are black and white, on the regular book pages. Nothing color or glossy. If you want cute photos of the baby Gosselins, check out their original website.
The book begins with Jon and Kate meeting, and quickly moves into their quest to have children. The book is written from Kate’s point of view, although Jon and Beth Carson (a friend) are also listed as authors. The writing flows pretty well, although here and there some awkward phrases stick out: Jon didn’t mind “having his eye caught on me,” Kate tells us.
They get married in June and Kate is pregnant by February, which makes one wonder whether the fertility quest was even needed. When the twins turn two, Kate has the now-famous desire for “just one more”, and of course we know the rest.
The book does delve into her pregnancy quite a bit, which is interesting. She went to the hospital in March, two months before the sextuplets were born. This had to be, to use a favorite Kate word, “exhausting”. She details how hard it was to be away from her girls during that time.
In a November 2008 article in Good Housekeeping magazine, Kate says, “Other families of sextuplets have both moms living right around the corner, helping them. We’ve had none of that.” Well … not exactly. She details in the book how helpful her mom was, visiting her daily in the hospital and giving her handfuls of index cards with Bible verses written on them. The family also lived with Kate’s parents for at least a week or so after the sextuplets were born. This all leads one to wonder what happened with her parents, who are now totally out of the picture in Jon and Kate’s lives. Her dad is not mentioned at all in the book.
After the babies are born and Kate can no longer stand staying at her parents’, Jon makes some calls and gets approval for them to stay at the Ronald McDonald House for a few weeks. Hershey then offers them the use of a condo. This appears to be the beginning of the great good monetary fortune bestowed upon the family.
And they do need fortune, as Jon loses one job while Kate is pregnant and works at another just a month before being fired after the babies are born. We are left to wonder exactly why this is … Kate infers that it’s because the companies didn’t want to pay for health insurance for the family, but who knows?
Kate later laments that volunteers helping with the babies “took a stab at (Jon’s) male ego” by asking if he had yet found a job. I had to laugh at this, observing how Kate takes stabs at Jon’s ego during every other sentence of their couch confessionals on the show.
Kate liberally sprinkles Bible verses throughout the book, and begins each chapter with a meaningful verse. This began to bother me. As a Christian, I love that she quotes the Bible. But, her actions speak so loudly that it’s hard to hear her words after awhile.
“Can’t anyone see that I’m bleeding over here?” Kate asks (figuratively bleeding, folks, not literally), as she lies in bed while a crowd of volunteers is feeding her babies in the living room. She becomes irritated as she hears the volunteers cheerily discussing things like getting pedicures and expensive haircuts.
At this point, I want to scream, “Woman! If you can just hold things together for a year or two, you’ll have all the free pedicures and expensive haircuts you can handle!” And then I think, maybe this is how God feels about us when we are ungrateful and complain. I have to tell you, it was really convicting to me and makes me think twice before feeling irritated. This was one thing I took from the book.
Kate does say throughout the book that she knows she is blessed, with the healthy babies, all kinds of freebies, dozens of volunteer helpers, etc. However, a statement like this is inevitably followed a page or so later with her complaining about something else. This just goes on and on, to the point where I honestly wish Kate could get some medical and/or psychological help. Surely if medicine could give her 8 healthy children, it could give her more peace of mind!
This got me to thinking about personality types. In the book, Kate comes across just like she does on the show: trying to enjoy life, but often frustrated and unhappy. This despite all the fame and fortune that has come their way. It’s instructive to all of us who feel that “the grass is always greener” – if you’re not happy now, you probably wouldn’t be even if you had everything.
Jon comes across as he does on the show also: helping tirelessly, seemingly the real hero of the family. Kate mentions that at night he would carry the babies to bed one by one, stopping to hold each one up to her lips for her to kiss. Although this is very sweet of Jon, it made me want to scream at Kate. Please GET UP OUT OF YOUR CHAIR and help put your own kids to bed, gosh darn it! It’s very reminiscent of the many scenes in the show where Kate is parked in her plastic chair, observing but rarely getting personally involved.
The last 30 pages or so of the book take on a more hopeful tone. Realizing that they have no vehicle to transport the entire family, Jon and Kate do some research and end up purchasing a Dodge Sprinter van, which seats 10. It’s refreshing to see that, at least in the early days, they did buy things for themselves. They host a big first birthday party for the sextuplets and invite 100, mainly folks who have volunteered to make their first year easier.
In August 2005, when the sextuplets are just over a year old, the Gosselins are contacted by a TV company wanting to do a one-hour documentary on their life. Kate describes how Jon was adamantly opposed to this and that she was leaning against it also, but was convinced by this line from the producers: “We do television to help people understand other people better.” I can see that this would be convincing to Kate, as she always seems to feel misunderstood by others. She lists this quote, and the desire to have family memories forever captured on film, as the reasons they made the life-changing decision to do the documentary, which later led to the television series.
The book ends with Kate listing 6 lessons God has taught her through her children: God is in control (although I think it’s debatable whether or not Kate fully realizes this yet), God is gracious and strong, etc.
I found myself a bit disappointed that the book ends at this point, when the sextuplets are still so small. However, as I mentioned at the outset, the Gosselins already have at least one more book ready to roll off the presses, and we have learned that where there’s publicity to be had, they’ll usually have it. So stay tuned for the next printed installment of the Gosselins’ adventures.