Counting the Cost by Jill Dillard (Review)

Another book that I read last year was one by one of the 19 Kids and Counting series' children. Jill Duggar released "Counting the Cost" expecting the best, but her family must have feared the worst. Unlike her sister's book focussing on religion and trauma, Jill's book really is a "tell all" to the extreme. 

Jill always came across as the perfect child. I always related to Jill as we were both very motherly, loved children and she did a course to become a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) in Arkansas, whilst I became a Registered Midwife (RM). When the abuse from her brother came out, she was the first to come forward and speak out. I admired her courage and her love, whilst noting that she seemingly had forgiven so much of the acts. 

She then married Derick Dillard and were a seemingly perfect pair. He worked hard, whilst studying, then the pair went on a long-term mission together. They now share three boys together and have sadly had two miscarriages, a son they named River, and one more recently of a little girl they named Isla. 
"As a star on the popular TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting, Jill grew up in front of viewers who were fascinated by her family’s way of life. She was the responsible, second daughter of Jim Bob and Michelle’s nineteen kids; always with a baby on her hip and happy to wear the modest ankle-length dresses with throat-high necklines. She didn’t protest the strict model of patriarchy that her family followed, which declares that men are superior, that women are expected to be wives and mothers and are discouraged from attaining a higher education, and that parental authority over their children continues well into adulthood, even once they are married. But as Jill got older, married Derick, and they embarked on their own lives, the red flags became too obvious to ignore.

For as long as they could, Jill and Derick tried to be obedient family members—they weren’t willing to rock the boat. But now they’re raising a family of their own, and they’re done with the secrets. Thanks to time, tears, therapy, and blessings from God, they have the strength to share their journey. Theirs is a remarkable story of the power of the truth and is a moving example of how to find healing through honesty."

I liked Jill, in fact I really liked Jill. But I feel like she has been incredibly manipulated by Derick, at least from my place in the public from what I've seen in the media and on social media in general. She seems to have been forced away from her family and he has distanced her and kept her away from her family. I also think, he very much owns her and seems to make all the decisions, forcing her to follow through. Take the cover for example. The book is suppose to be about Jill, written by Jill and telling Jill's story. Instead, the cover has the both of them on it and Derick stands behind Jill, but not in a protective stance, in a "I own you". 

Over the last few years, it's become harder and harder to relate to them and see them as people who aren't just trying to get money. Their social media has become a place of sponsorship and self-promotion. I can't even count the number of posts she posted with quotes and snippets from this book in particular. 

This book is one I was so excited to read and I ended up listening to Jill tell the story in an Audiobook format. I loved hearing it from her own voice, although I do feel she sounded very forced on occasions. 

Some of my favourite parts were in relation to her own birth stories. Her oldest son's was featured on the television show, with an emergency c-section after failure to progress in the first stage. Her second ended up also being an emergency c-section after a uterine rupture and her son suffered a bleed on the brain, a stroke, although with no life-altering long-term effects. Her third son was born again via a c-section although little details were shared on this other than it was "earlier than expected", so perhaps an elective brought forward. 

Despite that, the majority of the book focusses on the relationship difficulties within her family and more so, the financial situation of both her immediate family unit and extended family, with a battle to getting paid. I do understand that when it comes to family, business can be hard, which is why I have always said I will never do it myself. I like that she was open about the way she dealt with it from a professional and personal side, but it is only one side of the battle and I very much doubt, Jim-Bob will ever share his own. 

Throughout the book, there are so many private details shared. So many intimate family moments that didn't always relate to Jill. I struggle to see how her family can forgive her for the brutal honesty and at times I did feel like it was too much to be shared, even to the point where I didn't enjoy it all. It reminds me very much of Prince Harry's book "Spare". 

Overall, this was more of the story I wanted to hear. About trauma, and healing, and the family difficulties. But sharing your own life is own thing, and constantly bringing others in to make money is another. I hope Jill and her family find a peace with this, but I doubt they will. I'm glad she still has a relationship with at least some of them, but going forward, if I was them, I would be very guarded and I'm sure they forever, sadly will. I'm glad they are healing and supporting each other, especially with recent events.