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Joanne Greene
By Accident: A Memoir of Letting Go
Small in stature, large in presence, and always in charge, Joanne Greene anchored the news and hosted talk shows on San Francisco radio while totally devoted to her family - until a traumatic accident suddenly removed her ability to control anything. By Accident is a story of resilience and perseverance, of will and pluck, and of positivity and gratitude for lessons learned - even as the personal hits just keep on coming.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 8 out of 10
Overall: 8.75 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Greene navigates a horrific accident, a cancer diagnosis, and other notable events—including a hurricane while on vacation. She proves to be a testimony to resilience, and the changes sparked by her life's tragedies will comfort readers and give them hope.

Prose: Greene’s straightforward approach is honest and relatable. She draws readers into her world from the first page, keeping them invested in her story until the very end. The narrative tone matches her personal growth, shifting from panic and frustration to an inner calm and understanding as she relays a clear, heartfelt message to readers.

Originality: The overarching theme in Greene's memoir—that adversity can ignite positive change—is uplifting and noteworthy, told in a clear, distinctive voice.

Character/Execution: Greene enlightens and inspires readers by sharing her experiences—candidly detailing her painful moments alongside the more heart-warming events in her life. The end result feels like a therapeutic journal as Greene shares her healing process.

Date Submitted: October 06, 2023

Kirkus Review

“Greene, a former radio host and producer, has had her share of life-upending experiences. Her memoir opens with “ear-splitting cacophony...wild, uncontrolled movement.” In 2012, she was hit by a car while at a crosswalk, resulting in several pelvic fractures and a long road to recovery. Around the same time, she navigated a colon cancer diagnosis and, later, another cancer scare, and even weathered a major hurricane while on a trip to Mexico. Yet, beyond recounting the details of these destabilizing events, she’s concerned with charting a subtler, internal change in this book. For Greene, the car accident was “a sudden graphic stop to my constantly in-motion existence, my need to produce and achieve to feel worthy of love, my need to control everything because I’ve believed that it would make me safer.” The long stretches of time suddenly opened up by injury recovery brought her memories of lost family members, and she brought the knowledge she gained from moving through grief to the newfound challenges of daily life with debilitating injury. As with so many memoirs, affirmations and clearly articulated lessons pepper the text, and one may wonder if there’s a risk that the writing’s therapeutic function will overtake the task of literary creation. Still, Greene’s unadorned, straightforward prose keeps readers rooted in her lively narrative of hardship and recovery, and her mantras may prove useful for those going through similar experiences. Most refreshingly, she manages to paint a naturalistic portrait of the rhythms of life between tests and diagnoses, as well as the anxieties and insecurities that come with recognizing a fundamental dependence on others.
A clearsighted reflection on the need to let go in the face of uncertainty.”



Reedsy - Discovery Margie Peterson

Loved it! 😍

Getting hit by a truck seems unlikely to lead to anything good, but this memoir is a wise and honest look at pain, loss, and gratitude.


By Accident is a story about discovering that control is a seductive illusion and how letting go of the need for it can reveal great strength and lead us to even firmer ground.

Joanne Greene came of age in Boston during the 1960s and 70s, and moved to San Francisco where she hosted and produced award-winning feminist and other timely features and talk shows on radio and television for decades.

Underlying her high-achieving life was a sometimes-destructive need for control. Vulnerability and dependency were okay for other people. Her value was tied to how in charge, how together, and how productive she was. Then, a freak, traumatic accident set Joanne on a journey of discovering that her true power would come in the still moments, the moments when she loosened her grip and even allowed herself to crack, finding beauty and possibility in her fragility.


When Joanne Greene steps off the curb outside work and gets hit by a white truck, her community as well as caring strangers surround her. They handle the emergency and make sure to call her husband Fred. When she's in the hospital her pain is so intense, visitors are too much for her. She wants to be alone but panics when her husband isn't there. She has never experienced being this vulnerable or helpless. Joanne dreads going home, afraid that her husband won’t be able to care for her, but he surprises her. The man she fell in love with is resilient. He anticipates her needs, using humor and common sense to get them through.


Each chapter of this book contains a lesson. Greene writes with honesty and clarity about her emotions and the grueling aspects of the early days of being home. The world becomes as small or as large as the pain. Her hardest lesson was learning to trust others to help when she was at her most vulnerable. Healing has its own timeline, and you can’t muscle through it.


Sometimes her confidence was annoying, but as she reveals, it was her coping mechanism to get through tough emotional times. Her honesty moderated these moments and provided the context for how fragile and worried she felt about her potential for recovery. The reason why is significant. She's the last one left in her family and she had never allowed herself to grieve for them.


During her long convalescence, she shares tender stories of what taking care of her elder sister and aging mother entailed. By relating their wisdom and willingness to listen, she gives the reader an intimate view of the Jewish faith and the importance of family traditions. Celebrating the milestones of friends is a core value of how their community celebrates life.


The couple's devotion to each other shines through every chapter of the book. They sought marriage counseling when they couldn't handle two careers and an infant. When she needs advice on dealing with the trauma of her accident, a friend tells her about somatic therapy--and she goes.


The core tenet of the Jewish faith is to Choose Life. Loving support and hard work make it possible. I learned so much.

Reedsy- Discovery - Prathamesh Hadole

Must read 🏆

This mesmerizing memoir will pull at your heartstrings, leaving an indelible mark on your soul.


By Accident is a story about discovering that control is a seductive illusion and how letting go of the need for it can reveal great strength and lead us to even firmer ground.

Joanne Greene came of age in Boston during the 1960s and 70s, and moved to San Francisco where she hosted and produced award-winning feminist and other timely features and talk shows on radio and television for decades.

Underlying her high-achieving life was a sometimes-destructive need for control. Vulnerability and dependency were okay for other people. Her value was tied to how in charge, how together, and how productive she was. Then, a freak, traumatic accident set Joanne on a journey of discovering that her true power would come in the still moments, the moments when she loosened her grip and even allowed herself to crack, finding beauty and possibility in her fragility.


By Accident: A Memoir of Letting Go - A Heartwarming Journey into the Beauty of Embracing Life's Unexpected Turns


This mesmerizing memoir will pull at your heartstrings, leaving an indelible mark on your soul. From the very first page, you'll find yourself spellbound by the author's remarkable ability to turn personal tragedy into a testament of resilience and courage. You'll become enamored with the vivid imagery that paints a vivid picture of the places and people encountered along the way. One of the most enchanting aspects of this memoir is the way the author embraces vulnerability, inviting readers to connect with the raw, unfiltered truth of their experiences. Through candid reflections, the book offers profound insights into the complexities of human relationships, healing, and the ever-changing nature of life. It serves as a poignant reminder that life's unexpected turns can be the catalysts for immense personal growth and metamorphosis. This memoir is not merely a recollection of events; it's a profound meditation on the human spirit and its capacity to find meaning in adversity. It is a rare gem that transcends the boundaries of genre, touching the lives of readers from all walks of life. Prepare to embark on an emotional rollercoaster that will leave you breathless and yearning for more. With every chapter, 'By Accident' tugs at the strings of your heart, instilling a sense of awe for the beauty that can emerge from life's accidental encounters. In conclusion, 'By Accident: A Memoir of Letting Go' is an extraordinary literary triumph that captivates, inspires, and stays with you long after the final page. Joanne Greene  has crafted a masterful memoir that radiates a timeless message of resilience, hope, and the profound art of embracing life's unexpected journey. If there's one memoir you read this year, let it be this extraordinary tale of triumph over adversity.



A Car Accident, a Recovery and the Lessons Learned: Joanne Greene’s “By Acci

As Joanne Greene crossed the street on October 3, 2012, she heard a sudden and loud sound. She thought it was an explosion, but then she realized she was airborne and thrown on the hood of a car. On the street, right in front of her synagogue and her local JCC, where she worked, she lay on the ground, in agonizing pain, unable to move, surrounded by shocked onlookers.

Joanne Greene

What laid ahead for Joanne was a long road to recovery, one that was physical, mental and spiritual and resulted in her letting go of control and finding a new way to live, which she documented in her book, “By Accident: A Memoir of Letting Go.” 

A former radio show host in San Francisco, Greene spent 11 years as the director of the Center for Jewish Peoplehood at the Marin JCC. At the beginning of the book, she is working at the JCC and her colleague, Janet, witnesses her being hit. 

Greene writes, reflectively, in the opening chapter: “Being hit by a car is not my first blow — although it’s probably the most literal — and it won’t be my last. But it will be a catalyst for me, a sudden graphic stop to my constantly in-motion existence, my need to produce and achieve to feel worthy of love, my need to control everything because I’ve believed that it would make me safer. It will be the test that finally teaches me that my needs are masks, and that control is an illusion.”

“By Accident” details Greene’s recovery, which involves arduous physical therapy to heal her four pelvic fractures and other injuries. Throughout the entire ordeal, she relies on her loving husband, Fred, along with family members and friends, something she isn’t used to. 

She wrote the book to help readers who may also be struggling.  “After a tumultuous period in my life which I not only survived but turned into a major growth opportunity, I felt I had a story worth sharing with life lessons that might benefit others,” said Greene. “Also, having lost my parents and both siblings, I wanted to capture stories for future generations.”

Greene’s Judaism plays a large part in her recovery; she practices gratitude, especially when things get difficult, and when she hears the Misha Berach, the prayer for healing, she writes that it’s “like velvet caressing my arms.” 

She said, “Judaism teaches us to choose life, to be grateful for our blessings and to have faith in forces much greater than ourselves. I’m a part of a supportive Jewish community that showed up for me in major ways.” 

At one point, Greene goes to the mikvah with close friends and family members as a symbolic move and has a spiritually uplifting experience. 

“This ancient ritual purification — used to mark many passages in Judaism — can mark the progress of my healing,” she writes. “[In the mikvah], time feels suspended. My body tingles as I submerge in the water, again and again. There’s power to this ancient practice. I feel spiritually cleansed, like I’m being taken on a sacred journey of healing.”

Though Greene went back to work part-time at the JCC after her accident, she decided to retire during the pandemic and write her book. These days, life is slower and more relaxed; she spends time reading, doing yoga, hiking and being with her family. 

“I’m not as hard on myself, cutting myself slack and sometimes even napping mid-afternoon,” she said. “I see my children and grandchildren, all of whom live in L.A., as often as possible.”

Through her journey, Greene learned what she believes will be helpful to others: try not to think about how long it’s going to take to recover. 

Through her journey, Greene learned what she believes will be helpful to others: try not to think about how long it’s going to take to recover. Instead, focus on the moment. Ask others for help – and receive it. Stop judging the way people go about things, because we are all different and most of us are trying to do our best. 

It’s also important to have a loving mantra. 

“I hope people learn that what we tell ourselves matters greatly,” she said. “Questioning, for instance, ‘who do you think you are?’ doesn’t serve you. Alternately, saying ‘I can do this’ repeatedly, does. Even if you don’t believe your mantra initially, saying it to yourself often enough makes the message sink in.”

If nothing else works, go back to the basics and be grateful. “Gratitude is the best attitude to default to when feeling lousy,” she said. “Counting one’s blessings will always improve your state of mind.”

Joanne Greene will be speaking with Lacey Rose, Senior Managing Editor for The Hollywood Reporter, at Zibby’s Bookshop in Santa Monica on September 7 at 6 p.m. 

‘By Accident’: Marin radio host hit by car reflects on how to handle setback

In 2017, Novato resident Joanne Greene promoted multiple interfaith gatherings of local Jews and Muslims, convened a symposium on the Golden Age of Spain and co-led a JCC trip to Spain.

It was a lot of activity for someone who only five years prior had been hit by a car.

In her first book, “By Accident: A Memoir of Letting Go,” Greene, 69, assiduously recounts the impact of that accident — as well as a series of other ordeals — on her psyche and her life.

Formerly the director of Jewish engagement at the Osher Marin JCC, Greene writes that the accident proved to be “a catalyst for me, a sudden graphic stop to my constantly-in-motion existence, my need to produce and achieve to feel worthy of love, my need to control everything because I’ve believed it would make me safer.”

The JCC in San Rafael, in conjunction with Congregation Rodef Sholom and Copperfield Books, will host Greene for a reading and book signing on June 25, five days after the book’s publication date. (It’s already available as an audiobook on Audible.)

One day 11 years ago, Greene left work at the JCC and stepped into a crosswalk on North San Pedro Road. The car to the right of her stopped, but a truck behind that car did not, colliding with the car and pushing it forward. Greene was lifted onto the car’s hood, then thrown hard to the ground. The impact left her with multiple fractures of her pelvis and other serious injuries. Recovery would challenge her as nothing before had.

Born in 1954, Joanne Rosenzweig grew up near Boston in a fairly typical, close-knit Jewish family. After media studies at Northwestern University, she earned her bachelor of fine arts in communication arts at Emerson College. Making her way to the Bay Area, she launched a successful career in radio, including stints at KRE, KSAN (where she met her husband, Fred Greene, a producer), KFRC (where she spent 13 years as public affairs director then news director) and KGO (where she served as a fill-in talk show host).

It was while raising her two sons with Fred that she reengaged with Judaism. She got involved at Rodef Sholom, served three years as board chair of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Camp Newman, and in 2009 took the position of director of the Koret Center for Jewish Peoplehood at the Osher Marin JCC.

In an interview, she described herself pre-accident as a woman who took pride in accomplishment and set high standards for herself — as a professional, wife, mother, daughter, woman and feminist. She was the kind of person who was in perpetual motion from morning to night.

A broken pelvis put all that on pause. She is still high-achieving, but her accident forced her to surrender some of the pillars of her personality: independence, constant activity, and the illusion of control. The process of realigning her psyche was arguably as painful as the physical ordeal of healing.

We don’t have control over what happens to us but we absolutely have control over how we respond.

Some six months after the accident, she believed herself ready to return to work, even though the word “stress” now had new and unmanageable dimensions.

She reduced her hours to half-time, but “the universe,” as she is wont to say, had further challenges in store for her: a cancerous colon tumor, a benign tumor in her lungs and a hurricane in Mexico that confronted her with a near-death experience.

Greene had been keeping a journal as part of her coping strategy, and began writing a book after leaving the JCC in 2019.

“If I had to boil it all down,” Greene said, “what I wanted to offer my readers is this: Life is gonna happen, and loss, injury, illness; for some, divorce, or getting fired from jobs. We don’t have control over what happens to us but we absolutely have control over how we respond.”

Greene said she leaned on her husband for strength as the days of recovery turned into months and years. Indeed, she said, “Someone told me the book reads like a love letter to my husband. He was extraordinary.”

She also drew on Jewish tradition and community for support. “No question: Jewish wisdom helped me enormously,” she said. “I saw all of what was happening as opportunities for growth, to become a better person. And I think that’s a very spiritual approach. Which is not to say it was easy or that I was always successful.”

Greene explained, “We are descendants of survivors. It is no accident that my grandparents left Europe for a better life, fleeing the pogroms, fleeing persecution and lack of economic opportunity. They came to this country not speaking a word of English, pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, dealt with challenge after challenge, and were undaunted. I feel like that’s deep in my DNA, as it is in the DNA of many J. readers. I’m sure that will resonate.”

With her background in radio, Greene in 2021 co-created the podcast “All the F-Words” with Gabi Moskowitz, a Bay Area writer. Taking off from virtually any word that starts with F, the co-hosts discuss issues from fanaticism to firearms to feng shui to FOMO (fear of missing out). Moskowitz, who lives a few blocks from the Greenes and is raising two small children, says she enjoys their conversations both on air and off.

“Joanne is a living embodiment of ‘don’t sweat the small stuff.’ She is so good at rising above adversity large and small,” Moskowitz said.  “But it’s not just the literal words of her advice. It’s her tone. The energy she gives off is so comforting because you can see how unruffled she is by challenges. Her perspective and wisdom touch everything.”

In 2023, Greene created a  second podcast with her husband. “In This Story … with Joanne Greene” features micro-essays by Greene set to music and sound effects.

Both podcasts are available on all major podcast platforms.

While the radio medium suits her as much now as it ever did, writing the book provided an important sense of completion.

“It feels good to have captured my learnings,” she said.

“By Accident: A Memoir of Letting Go” by Joanne Greene (She Writes Press, 177 pages). Book talk and signing 5-7 p.m. June 25 at Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. Free, registration requested.

Memoir Offers Lessons in the Journey from Coping to Thriving

Greene, Joanne; By Accident: A Memoir of Letting Go;; 177 pages, ISBN: 978-1-64742-444-2.

By Eva Trieger

SAN DIEGO — I always find it serendipitous when things fall into my lap when I’m needing them most. Allow me to explain. I’ve just finished reading an autobiographical book by broadcast journalist and talk show host, Joanne Greene.

Joanne Greene. Credit: Lisa Keating.

Greene, a take-charge, fully present go-getter was humbled by a traumatic and devastating car accident. By Accident: A Memoir of Letting Go, provides not only a highly personal account of the pain, suffering, and acceptance associated with the event but offers lessons in coping and eventually, thriving. Greene has courageously and graciously invited the reader to grow with her and overcome the obstacles beyond her control. What perfect timing as we perch on the cusp of the month of Elul! The book is the perfect reminder that our Jewish lives are in the hands of Hashem, regardless of how much we believe we’re in charge!

Greene’s memoir opens with her stepping into the crosswalk in front of the JCC, where she works, and the synagogue where she worships, when she is slammed by a car and sent up into the air before landing on the ground. Amazingly, she did not suffer head injuries from the impact but did sustain four breaks in her pelvis. What follows is her journey of healing that required so much more than just knitting bones and physical therapy. Greene had to learn to rely on her husband, friends, family, and community. Fortunately, her Jewish values and faith, and connection to the Jewish community, provided her with tools to handle that which initially seemed incomprehensible and intolerable.

I was struck by Greene’s acknowledgment that this cataclysmic occurrence did not only affect her life. Fred, her husband of more than 34 years, stepped up to the plate in ways she could not have imagined. He was with her through every torturous step, providing nourishment, moral support, and creative problem-solving for mobility and positioning issues. The two had met in 1978 when both had worked for San Francisco radio station, KSAN FM. The pair raised two sons, both of whom observed the love, commitment, and devotion of their parents to one another and to their family.

The book is much more about resilience, determination, and the realization that life cannot be lived at 100 mph. It must be savored slowly, taking time to really experience every morsel of the savory banquet that is uniquely catered just for us. Greene, though not of her volition, was forced to pace herself and acknowledge her need for occasional time-outs. While she loves her friends, at times the energy required was just too much.

While the trauma of being hit by a car may have been the catalyst for Greene’s memoir, her sojourn brought her to a new reality and required great introspection enabling her to tune into her purpose, her connection to life, and the creation of a legacy. Along the way, Greene experienced additional health hurdles, a few simchot, and an ever-increasing appreciation for staying present and open to the full range of experiences, viewed through the lens of uplifting Jewish values.  While we enter into Elul and take stock of who we are and where we’re going, By Accident, reminds us of the gift of looking inward in order to grow outward.

Greene is available for speaking engagements and may be contacted at

Novato author and podcaster details how trauma changed her life in new memoir

For Joanne Greene, Oct. 3, 2012 was supposed to be like any other day. Until it wasn’t.

After leaving work at Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, where she was director of the Koret Taube Center for Jewish Peoplehood, she stepped into a nearby crosswalk on North San Pedro Road and was hit by car. Although the car had stopped in time, a truck behind it didn’t. When it collided with the car, it pushed it forward into Greene, who was thrown onto the car’s hood and then the ground. It left her with four pelvis fractures among other injuries, and a pain the mother of two describes while laying in her hospital room as “worse than childbirth.”

“I can’t move. Can’t speak. I lift my head and blink my eyes a few times. Things come into focus. To my right, people crowd the sidewalk, staring at me with their mouths open in horror. …
I hear someone yelling, “Oh, my God. Oh, my God!” I slowly turn my head in the direction of the sound but see nameless faces. Cars are turned in different directions.
People are running toward me. I’m lying splayed in the middle of the street and feel my short cotton print dress hiked up, naked thighs on display. Like that matters. I keep blinking, but the scene doesn’t change,” Greene writes of the immediate aftermath of the accident in her memoir, “By Accident: A Memoir of Letting Go” (She Writes Press), which will be released Tuesday.

In what will be a full circle moment, Greene will return to her old workplace to read from her memoir at 5 p.m. Sunday. The event is co-sponsored by Osher Marin JCC and Congregation Rodef Sholom, where she’s a congregant, in partnership with Copperfield’s Books.

“I loved the concept of Joanne’s book — the through thread and multiple meanings of what it means to be ‘by accident,'” says Brooke Warner, publisher of She Writes Press. “Joanne has had a really interesting life, and the story did a commendable job with characters — her family of origin, her sons, her husband. She was candid, too, about her struggles, her needs, her desire not to seem needy. As a women’s press, we’re always looking for memoirs that are radically honest, and Joanne’s is. I also very much enjoyed the Jewish storyline — Joanne’s commitment to the synagogue and involvement with her community.”

Addressing adversity

“I don’t want to be known as that woman who got hit by the car,” Greene writes.

But, that is just the beginning of the Novato writer and podcaster’s story. Her memoir also details the aftermath of the accident and having to give up her once-taken-for-granted independence, as well as experiencing a hurricane in Mexico and being flown out by the Mexican military, her diagnosis of stage 1 colon cancer, a glimpse into her family dynamics, and the life-changing lessons and revelations she’s gleaned along the way.

“You don’t have to be hit by a car to relate to this story is the point,” she says. “What I am really writing about is how to deal with adversity and how I learned about how to deal with adversity. Things will happen to us in our lives — illness, loss, injury, some of us will get fired from jobs or divorced, relationships will end — and there are things we can do to help ourselves move through that and grow through those experiences. I was lucky enough to have something kick in for me shortly after the accident that was this ‘I can do it’ mentality. I had been a person in constant motion, one of those people who was always busy, maybe doing too much, and so I got real vulnerable in writing this book, sharing what I learned about myself and how to slow down and be still.”

Before the accident, Greene was no stranger to loss and grief. She’d lost her mother, sister and brother all within four years, her sister to ovarian cancer and her brother an unexpected hemorrhagic stroke, which also killed her father.

While she thought she’d already “experienced the worst of what life presents,” it wasn’t until after her accident that she realized there were still lessons to be learned — that she felt safer and more secure living life at a slower pace, to prioritize being there for others in times of need, and to take time to spread joy and uplift others, even in small gestures like smiling at a stranger, high-fiving a child or bringing a meal to a friend who had surgery.

“I think in retrospect I did learn a lot and grew a lot, but I kind of went back to my old ways in many ways. I think it’s almost like a metaphor, it took literally getting hit by a car, for me to really get what the universe was trying to tell me, or what I could learn. Then I have a couple of other crises after the accident that gave me an opportunity to practice what I had learned.”

‘Happiest place’

Greene always thought she’d write a book — albeit maybe not this personal. After spending much of her career in radio, including stints at KRE, KSAN, KFRC and KGO, and writing for others, she says the pandemic became an important catalyst for transformation.

When the Osher Marin JCC closed in the early days of the pandemic, she decided to retire and focus on her creative pursuits, throwing herself headfirst into writing her memoir, which had been years in the making. Not long after, she started two podcasts: All The F Words with co-host Gabi Moskowitz, of Novato, and In this Story… with Joanne Greene, which she launched earlier this year and that highlights short stories of her life, like selling her mom’s china and what she learned from losing her phone.

At 69, Greene says she’s in the “happiest place” she’s been in. She feels grateful to have her children and two grandchildren — the “loves of her life” — her husband of more than 40 years, Fred, and this exciting time of her life. She doesn’t take it for granted.

“I feel like I have started a whole new career. It’s a crazy feeling and I feel really fortunate,” she says. “Neither of my siblings made it out of their 60s and my dad died at 70. I am entering a new phase and I feel like if I have some wisdom, I want to share it. If there are some things I have figured out about how to live a rich and meaningful life, I want to share it.”


What: Joanne Greene reads from “By Accident”

Where: Osher Marin JCC, 200 North San Pedro Road, San Rafael

When: 5 p.m. Sunday

Admission: Free

Information: Register on Eventbrite