5 Moments From Jill Duggar's Exclusive Book Signing That Left Us With More Questions

Jill Duggar Dillard's tell-all book, "Counting the Cost," is everything her fans hoped it would be; an honest account of her life as one of the stars of a famous reality show, and the events that caused Jill and her husband, Derick Dillard, to leave the "19 Kids & Counting" franchise. Like her sister, Jinger Duggar Vuolo, Jill doesn't hold back from condemning her parents' controversial faith ministry, the Institute in Basic Life Principles. But Jill goes even further, exposing the vile lengths to which her father, Jim Bob Duggar, went to keep the show on the air — and his children's TV earnings in his pocket. 

On September 14, 2023, two days after the book's release date, Jill and Derick held an exclusive live virtual book-signing event, during which they answered questions from followers while putting their Sharpies to the title page of the pre-ordered copies. The couple's mutual love and comfort level was evident as they joked around with each other about topics such as Derick's bachelor party (Jill worried the groomsmen might play a dangerous prank on him), and a dinner date that involved Jill finishing Derick's meal as well as her own ("I didn't come from a family of 18 siblings where I had to scarf everything down because I didn't know if I was going to eat," he quipped).

But while the Dillards did address some personal issues, the Q&A ultimately left us with more questions than answers. In fact, we may have to wait for a "Counting the Cost II" to find out more about certain topics. 

What would a Dillard reality show look like?

After years of having their personal lives captured for the cameras, Jill and Derick Dillard left the "Counting On" series in 2017 and never looked back. The first fan question that the couple answered was whether they would ever consider a return. As Derick explained, "The biggest misconception was that we were against reality TV completely." It was actually the lack of control over what was being shown about their personal lives that prompted the Dillards to walk.

In "Counting the Cost," Jill also claims that she and Derick couldn't even tell their parents about their first pregnancy until after they'd informed the TLC producers and the birth of son Israel was filmed against Jill's wishes. The couple confirmed they'd certainly be open to appearing in a new reality series, just not one centering on their lives as parents. Having spent her teen years with a camera crew in her home, Jill wants to give Israel, Samuel, and Frederick some privacy. 

And yet, the couple didn't offer any suggestions of what they'd feature instead. There are only so many date nights and camping trips an audience can watch, and while Derick may be a great lawyer, he's not aiming to be the next Judge Judy. On the other hand, we've recommended the Duggars could go back to reality TV as members of existing casts. Would budding gardener Jill consider joining an HGTV show, for example?

Just how free will the Dillard sons be?

Like her own mother, Jill Duggar Dillard is a proud stay-at-home mom. However, her parenting methods differ sharply from the way she was brought up. For instance, Jill doesn't hold to her parents' anti-birth control beliefs; she has three sons and has no interest in breaking her mother's record. Jill also confirmed in her memoir that her two oldest sons, Israel and Samuel, attend public school, though she and her siblings were all homeschooled through a ministry-based curriculum. 

In their online Q&A session, the Dillards confirmed that they never used the controversial "blanket training" infant discipline method — essentially smacking babies into submission — endorsed by the elder Duggars. A follower wanted to know if the couple was raising their kids to be free thinkers. In response, Derick opined, "One of the biggest things I think parents should do is to teach their kids to think for themselves." 

He added that while they want the boys to "follow Jesus," the path they choose may be different than they expect. "If they're called to be a hairdresser, then be a hairdresser for Jesus," he reasoned. Definitely an admirable sentiment, but just how free are the Dillards willing to let their boys be? According to People and other sources, Derick's derogatory comments about LGBTQ+ families got him fired from the "Counting On" series. Have their beliefs evolved since then?

What does the future hold for the youngest Duggars?

The 19 Duggar children are almost evenly divided, with nine girls and 10 boys. Of the daughters, four are married (Jill, Jinger, Jessa, and Joy-Anna), one is an adult living on the family's property (Jana), and the other four are teenagers (Johannah, Jennifer, Jordyn-Grace, and Josie). More than one fan wanted to know whether Jill worries for her youngest sisters since they're still living at "the big house" and under the authority of their parents and the ministry they follow. 

Jill's answer was cautious: "I'm not trying to usurp my parents or anything like that ... [W]hile I can pray, and while I see harmful things in the teachings of the IBLP, I just have to trust that ultimately, God is in control." Derick also suggested, "Maybe they'll read her book." While we understand Jill doesn't want to come right out and criticize Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar for continuing to raise their children in the ministry, we were hoping she'd get just a little bit more specific. 

For instance, is Jill concerned about what her sisters are being told about her and the contents of "Counting the Cost?" And what about the girls' future? Women in the IBLP are expected to marry fellow believers after a supervised courtship period, before settling into a life of homemaking and motherhood. Does Jill wish at least one Duggar girl could have the chance to be a doctor or a CEO?

Is Jill trying to get through to Jana?

Several of Jill Duggar Dillard's followers also wanted to know about one particular sister. Jana Duggar, the eldest daughter of their large family, is also the oldest of the adult siblings to have yet to marry. Because she lives on her father's property, it's widely believed that Jana still has to answer to him and that she continues to follow the dictates of the IBLP. Jill also makes a stunning revelation in her book that Jana was one of a number of young (and blonde) women invited to work in the office of IBLP founder Bill Gothard, who left the congregation in 2014 amid accusations of sexual harassment (via InTouch Weekly). 

However, during the virtual signing event, Jill was far less forthcoming when asked whether she was concerned about Jana still being a part of the IBLP. "I try not to meddle too much in my siblings' lives," she argued. "I'll let them tell their story." Jill also pointed out that disassociating from a cult-like group like Gothard's takes time, and praised sister Jinger Duggar Vuolo for breaking free. Jill's response was quite guarded for someone who wrote about her sister being put in an "unsafe [and] unwise" situation by their parents. Is she at least hoping Jana will read her book and be inspired to go live her own life?

Where do the Dillards go from here?

A few months before the book's release, Jill and Derick Dillard appeared in the Amazon docuseries "Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets," a takedown of the IBLP. They were no less critical of the ministry during their short virtual signing event. Jill was careful to emphasize, "Derick and I were never part of the IBLP," too. While she was raised in its rules by her parents, Jill was never a formal member. The Dillards noted that the group "had good Kool-Aid," offering fun family camps and other events that appealed to large Christian families like the Duggars. "But when you pay attention to the teachings, that's where it gets dangerous," Jill warned. 

A strong message, to be sure — but now what? The live signing ended after an hour with no hint as to what lies next for the couple. The book seems destined to be a bestseller, and Jill could easily leverage its success and her Duggar name to help IBLP members find their way out of the organization, or even to shut down the group altogether. Is that their goal? Or is the "black sheep" daughter happy just to have made her voice heard at last? We'd definitely understand if Jill wanted to go back to her quiet life of parenting and gardening, but we'd love it even more if she continued to use her voice to help other victims of religious abuse and toxic relationships.