Telling her story. Jinger Duggar grew up in the spotlight, but there was still plenty TLC fans didn’t know about her life — until now.
The 19 Kids and Counting alum, 29, released her book Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear on Tuesday, January 31. Her memoir unpacks her ultra-conservative Christian upbringing, her life on reality TV and more while describing how she reframed her perspective on faith.
“It’s been definitely a challenging process to write this book, but as I’ve said before, it’s the most important thing I’ve ever done,” Duggar exclusively told Us Weekly before the book hit shelves, adding that she hoped her words help “even just one person” find freedom. “I think in this book I’ve been more open and vulnerable than I ever have before.”
The Arkansas native rose to fame on her family’s TLC reality series, which debuted in 2008 and aired for seven seasons. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar‘s large brood — and their controversial religious background — was the focus of the show until its cancellation in 2015. (19 Kids and Counting was axed after news broke that Josh Duggar molested multiple girls, some of whom were his sisters, when he was a teenager.)
Over the years, the Duggar family has weathered many storms in the public eye. “I’m still surprised the show lasted as long as it did,” Jinger confessed in her book. “In the early years, my family assumed the show would last no more than a season or two. It didn’t seem possible that that many Americans would be interested in a family with our conservative values.”
Jinger and her siblings were raised under the teachings of Bill Gothard, a conservative minister who founded the Institute in Basic Life Principles. Among those principles are strict guidelines regarding purity and modesty — but Jinger began to question the teachings as she grew up and started a family of her own. (While speaking to Us this month, Jinger referred to her childhood spiritual practice as “cult-like in many ways.”)
The Counting On alum married Jeremy Vuolo in November 2016 after a whirlwind courtship, and the pair share two daughters: Felicity, now 4, and Evangeline, now 2. According to Jinger, her relationship with the former soccer player, 35, contributed to her finding freedom — but their romance wasn’t always easy.
“My determination to guard my heart made it difficult for Jeremy to figure out whether I liked him. … He, of course, assumed that I’d shared these things with my sisters. But I hadn’t,” she wrote. “I hadn’t told Jessa or any of my other siblings how I felt about Jeremy.”
Jinger remembered feeling “a lot of pressure” from the outside world when she began her courtship with Vuolo. “Jeremy was the last guy to ask my father if he could court me,” she wrote, admitting that she felt “a bit intimidated” by her now-husband at first. “He was unlike the previous guys in nearly every way.”
The couple faced several challenges together, including the 2021 cancellation of Counting On. TLC officially cut ties with Jinger’s family after Josh was arrested for receiving and possessing child pornography. (He is currently serving 12.5 years in prison following his May 2022 sentencing.)
“Alongside sadness that the show was ending, I felt grateful to have been a part of it. I had countless wonderful experiences thanks to the show. … There are dozens of places and cultures I wouldn’t know anything about if not for the show,” Jinger wrote, confessing that she also felt “relief” to no longer be in front of the camera. “In many ways, the show’s end was the last leg of a journey that 10-year old me could not have dreamed would occupy so much of my life.”
Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear is available now. Scroll down for the biggest revelations from Jinger’s book about her childhood, marriage and more: