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Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  2,026 ratings  ·  250 reviews
A micro-preemie fights for survival in this extraordinary and gorgeously told memoir by her parents, both award-winning journalists.

Juniper French was born four months early, at 23 weeks' gestation. She weighed 1 pound, 4 ounces, and her twiggy body was the length of a Barbie doll. Her head was smaller than a tennis ball, her skin was nearly translucent, and through her c
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Little, Brown Spark
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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 ·  2,026 ratings  ·  250 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
I don’t know why I downloaded this Audiobook.
Not really. The cute cover maybe? I knew ‘nothing’ about it.
I’m reminded- again- of the advantage of having a library card, an iPhone, and the Overdrive app. There is no financial risk with ‘blind-faith-chance’ downloading of a book. (audio or ebook).
If it’s a dud, so what.. I can return it.
This was NOT A DUD!
It’s a phenomenal memoir. I learned a lot.
Award-winning journalists - a married couple....Kelly and Thomas French, alternated in telling th
Diane Yannick
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I could not quit reading this book. I honestly didn't do anything I was supposed to do for an entire day. I was 100% enthralled with the journey of this family's experiences with their precious micro-premie, Junebug. Once she started grabbing on to her parents' pinkies, I just knew she was going to have the necessary spunk to survive. At least I hoped she would. Her survival instinct and her parents' proactive stances sure did help. Yet for me, the hours Tom spent reading Harry Potter to her wer ...more
Sep 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

I found it difficult to rate this book. There were some parts that were 5 star touching and there were some parts that were so bothersome that I wanted throw the book across the room. Let's start with the touching and positive. This book for the most part was about Juniper's struggle to live and the journey her parents had to take along with her. That part of the book was beautiful, touching and raw open emotions. To hear about all the diffi
Elizabeth Hayhoe
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tamara Lush
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There will be a lot said about this book in journalism circles and medical ethics circles. But at its core, this is a book about love. About the love a wife has for her husband. About the love a mother, and father, have for their daughter.

In one way, it was an easy read because the prose was impeccable. But we all know that easy reading is difficult writing and I commend the authors for their style and voice. In another way, it was difficult and unflinching, a draining read. It's a story of peo
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeannette Mazur
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So. Very. Wonderful. I am currently pregnant with a baby that I know will have problems when it's born. Reading about a baby born so premature that they jumped from one complication to another made me SO thankful that our baby will (most likely) be born full term, and only have 1 problem. I can deal with one problem. This book helped me come to terms with the struggles of being a mom to a special baby, and all of the struggles and joys encompased in that. Solid 10/10. Would recommend to fans of ...more
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, I despised these parents. I hated their love story, which I think they think was deep and profound. It wasn't. It was a relationship rooted in cheating and lying. I can see so clearly why Tom was divorced. He clearly is a narcissist that can't co-exist with someone else. Then when he realized "oh sh*t, I am old and this is the only young chick that's going to want me" he quickly gets on board with the relationship and marriage. Even the way the baby was conceived I felt ick about. It just ...more
Linda Baker
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank You for Telling Our Story

What a beautiful tribute to the force that is Juniper! We too have a child who was born too soon (27-weeks) and I can't begin to explain the parallels of our story and that of the French's. Makes me wonder if, in some ways, this is the story of everyone who survives the NICU? Thank you to the authors for making us feel less alone in this whirlwind. Your words have helped heal an immense struggle. To you and all the other parents of babies with rough starts, our hea
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Oh my gosh...this book is so heart wrenching, and yet so heart warming! I couldn't believe the things I read about what preemies go through. I loved the severe and blunt way the authors wrote, after all they are also the parents of dear little Juniper. So many great and horrible things in this book...oh, and Harry Potter!! ...more
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much, I couldn't put it down and finished it in 3 days. It was so good and perfect, and I'm curious for someone else who didn't have a micro preemie to read it and see if they like it as much because so much of my own experience was in here. I wonder if you would like it Alison or if it'd be too close too home right now? Becky you should read this!! Anyway, some of my favorite or most interesting parts:

Previously any baby born weighing less than 2 lbs. (Eddie was 1 lb 13 oz
Oct 11, 2016 rated it liked it
It's hard to rate a book with a personal description of such a harrowing experience. They told the story of their micro-preemie's survival (gosh! 24 weeks! I can't imagine--even with my own 30-weeker NICU experience). It is hard to capture trauma accurately and I applaud their attempt. This being said, I didn't particularly like them as people and I am positive we would not be friends. Much of their story grated on my nerves and it is difficult for me to believe there was no emotional fallout (o ...more
Jul 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Sadly, I read a beautiful essay by Kelley about this event and thought I'd like to read the book. I was wrong. I couldn't get over the cheating and selfishness that took place at the beginning. I didn't have an empathy for Tom at all. This book just wasn't for me. ...more
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
I received this book as an advanced copy at BookExpo America after I recognized the story from Radiolab. I had liked the condense version of this story in podcast form, so I thought why not pick up a copy of the book. This is actually the first time I've had a chance to read a book before it has been officially released in stores.

I know (or knew) next to nothing about preemies or really babies for that matter, so this was sort of an unusual pick for me to read, but I do like nonfiction here and
Tami Ridenour
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As the mom of former 24 week twins, of course the book pulled right at my heartstrings. I knew all the terms, all the emotions and remembered the rollercoaster ride of the NICU. I know what it felt like to bring your preemie baby home after all those months and I know how it felt to be given the memory box instead of a baby as my sons twin sister did not make it. Unlike other reviewers I like the parents. I thought they were honest, real, had a sense of humor (a must in this crazy life) and were ...more
Nov 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
Ultimately it was well-written, but I was disappointed by the narrative they chose to tell.

There was no science whatsoever! This memoir is nicely done if you want a book that helps you understand that it is awful to have a severely premature baby in the NICU for 6 months. Spoiler alert - it really is awful. Otherwise, it does nothing to enlighten the reader.

I think this book would have been stronger had less backstory (there are too many details of the long, tortuous path that Thomas and Kelly t
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! The way Kelley and Tom shared their raw emotions touched my heart. And Juniper's strength was amazing! I couldn't wait to see how this part of her story ended. Thank you Kelley and Tom for sharing your story, I'll admit I looked Kelley up on Facebook and Juniper's beautiful pictures brought me to tears. ...more
Apr 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful story. Miracles really do happen ❤️ Felt connected as we had our oldest in the NICU, thankfully only 3 weeks, but forever grateful for all the NICU doctors and nurses. Special people.
I received this book for free through a giveaway from Goodreads.

Mixed feelings. I finished this book earlier today, and have been thinking about it since. I can't decide if I like it or not. Other reviewers commented on the touching story and the strong supporting characters throughout, namely the nurses and other hospital staff involved in caring for Juniper. These parts were my favorites, and there were specific sections, especially those about the Harry Potter reading sessions and other gems,
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edelweiss
I read an advance review copy of this book from Edelweiss, it will be released in September. This is the compelling account of the months long struggle for life endured by the authors' micro preemie daughter, Juniper. The last time that I was so immersed in a nonfiction book was nearly 20 years ago when I read another book by Juniper's father Tom French, "South of Heaven". French and his wife are writing about their own lives in this book, allowing a depth of feeling uncommon in nonfiction. As t ...more
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really wasn't going to read this one because I didn't think I was going to be able to bear it. I had heard the parents interviewed on NPR for part of their interview(never do catch the whole thing) and I wasn't sure how things turn out. With so much sadness in the world these days I just couldn't take more tears...but this book was a gorgeous memoir that just lifted me up and kept me mesmerized the entire time. It brought me back to the time when my own grandson was in the NICU and I could som ...more
Danielle Pillsbury
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had the hardest time putting this book down after receiving an advanced reading copy. During the times I wasn't reading, I was worrying about the battles Tom, Kelley, Juniper and the entire medical team were fighting. I love a story that pulls at your emotions and gives you a glimpse of what the authors were feeling at the time and this is definitely one of those stories. I too had a baby in the NICU, though not due to being a micro-preemie, and found myself reliving my own experience while re ...more
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Could not put down saga of what can happen at the narrowest margin of viability in a premature infant. The parents alternate a very frank series of chapters of their relationship, fertility struggles, and approach to the tremendous upheaval of their harrowing experiences in the NICU. Memorable nurses and doctors abound, and serious questions of medical care at the very beginning of life are examined. Cried often. Tried not to judge throughout. As a would-be grandparent in just a week or two, per ...more
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have looked everywhere for writing--both fiction and non--that describes the singular experience of being in the NICU and have come up short. It is such a complex experience, it seems more folks would be inspired to write about it. I was thrilled to hear about the publication of this book, in which Tom and Kelley very openly share the details of Baby Juniper's struggle to survive. It was so comforting for me to read about another family's take on being in that completely unnatural state of hav ...more
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow. So many emotions. Beautifully written and a beautiful story. I felt for the parents...and this book really brought my own emotions with parenthood (though my experiences are SO very different than this story) to the surface in a way that I think I’ll be processing and dealing with them for a while. I never would have chosen this book on my own, but a recommendation on a friend’s Facebook page encouraged me to buy it. I’m glad I did.
Dec 30, 2016 rated it liked it
As others have noted, I found this book hard to rate. Try as I might, I finally decided in disgust that I couldn't relate to the self absorbed arrogant attitude of entitlement throughout. As a person who lost several babies and who had numerous difficulties bringing into the world the ones that survived, I could not stomach Kelly's blase attitude about bike riding and full contact rotweiler dog racing that led to Juniper's early birth; especially after all the difficulties she had getting pregna ...more
Brooke Mulroy
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Eh. I'm not a big fan of autobiographical books. This story was definitely not for me. While this book definitely makes you care about how hard little Juniper had to fight, the parents themselves are unlikable and morally questionable people that it's hard sometimes to care about them. The backstory of their "romance" was gross. 4 years of a back and forth affair. By the time he decided to "commit" he was an old saggy 50 year old, she was 35. All of the IVR and the expense, just kind of boring. ...more
Sarah Woolf-King
Nov 20, 2016 rated it liked it
I have been wanting to read this book since I heard the radio lab episode about it. I really liked it, mostly because I related on a personal level to the content. What was missing for me was what the radio lab episode focused more on: a discussion of the broader existential dilemmas surrounding Juniper's birth and survival. I realize now that this is more a personal reflection of a family's journey--and it's a beautifully written account. My expectations were just misaligned based on the radio ...more
Sally Grey
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
I had listened to the podcast on Radiolab so I knew most of the story, but it was interesting to go through it again. Good for you, Juniper. While I understand the struggle for the parents who wrote this story and lived through it, they seem not very sympathetic at times. But I'm glad that Juniper lives! And I'm glad for the technology that helped her survive. There are some interesting moral issues that need further explanation. ...more
Gina Baldyga
Feb 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Miraculous story of a baby's fight for survival after being born at 24 weeks. The story is told by her parents, who are both journalists. This all sounds very promising for a riveting tale, but I found it dragged somewhat as the days ran into one another and the story, however frightening, felt repetitive. It probably made a better series of short articles (which the mother did write and won awards for) than a full book. ...more
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