"How do I want to die? Oh, I don't know. How about a pillow over my face? It will probably be a family member." Thus illustrates the biting candor of Amanda Bailey. Born with Down syndrome, wisecracking Amanda is the youngest sibling in this funny, painfully honest story of bitterly divided family. With their father on his deathbed, eight siblings engage in a feud over property and possessions. Granted a monthly Social Security check due to her disability, Amanda is pulled into a belligerent guardianship dispute. Her favorite sister Nancy is immersed in bankruptcy and foreclosure. Just when Nancy needs to support Amanda the most, she is at her most broken. In unexpected ways, Amanda lifts her up as no one else can. Set in Michigan's remote and economically depressed Upper Peninsula, THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN examines the paralyzing legal position of people with disabilities, and the stigma of the homeless. It shows how two sisters' love for each other transcends loss, grief and upheaval within a hopelessly dysfunctional family. In the midst of chaos, it is the misfits who manage to shine.
This memoir offers a unique perspective, as it's written by a sibling rather than a parent, and it centers around an adult with Down syndrome rather than the usual stories about babies and kids with Down syndrome. ...Nancy is a talented writer, and Amanda's contributions bring the story more to life. A story with real heart; I definitely recommend it.
Nancy has a great writing style & ability to show the reader, not just tell. I loved the raw emotions... she's not afraid to show the negative sides of people, including herself. I also loved the parts Amanda wrote herself & was pleasantly surprised at how eloquent she is.
5 stars are not sufficient for this book. It is a work of art – in literature, in humanity, in pure creative genius. In an odyssey of family disintegration, writer Nancy J. Bailey has exposed the human soul in all its frailty and strength, its ugliness and brilliance. Most of all she leads us to understand the resilience of the human spirit, sometimes in spite of itself. This wisdom does not come easy. There is nothing trite, cute or pedestrian about this story. It is an American Original that resonates as powerfully as the stories of Carson McCullers, Wm. Faulkner, and Truman Capote. The Bailey clan is a far flung group of individuals born in hardscrabble U.P. Michigan. Some might call it a backwater, but Nancy Bailey’s pen shows us its beauty and definition of home. Within a mixture of eight children is born the youngest, Amanda, a precocious Down’s Syndrome baby who becomes the golden light of Nancy’s own young life. In their adult years comes the inevitable. Their parents age with no provision in place for Amanda after they are gone. Facing her own financial ruin and health issues, Nancy attempts to hold ailing parents and Amanda together in the midst of feuding siblings. The resulting saga is one fraught with humor, bittersweet moments of fear and loss, and sheer despair. Amanda and Nancy and their remarkable Dad give us laugh-out-loud moments, before we turn the pages to dissolve in tears with an irresistible urge to hug someone – or slap someone. Amanda would counsel that hugging is the better choice. Read this book and you will understand Down’s Syndrome in a way you never did before. Read this book and you will understand grief and forgiveness in a way you never did before. Simply read this book -- you will not be able to put it down until it is done.
....Describes in unrelenting detail both the dissolution of a family and the bonding of sisters... Nancy's younger sister, Amanda, while intellectually disabled, comes to us in her sister's words as irrepressible, funny, and wise in her acute readings of others. But this is also a love story and a contemporary illustration of just how far loyalty and strength can carry two women.
In their memoir, THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN, sisters Nancy and Amanda Bailey pull their readers deep into the angst of growing up in a dysfunctional family.
Warning: THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN is not a light read. Nancy and Amanda do not shy away from emotions that cut to bone as anger, bitterness, and hurt cast their siblings and family members into shifting alliances and fragile relationships.
Yet throughout, Nancy, with her flowing, erudite style, carries us to Drummond, a remote island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and opens our hearts to its beauty and peace. Her descriptions paint an aura of enchantment that seems to be an inherent quality of the island itself, a hope for healing. Someday, somehow.
What makes this memoir stand above all others is the unparalleled opportunity to read Amanda’s wise and amazing journal entries, which introduce each chapter.
Amanda, born with Down’s Syndrome, cultivates a wit and genius that surprises and delights. Her wisdom places her at the heart and center of the Bailey clan, and her relationship with her sister Nancy glows from the pages. More importantly, Amanda’s honesty pares through family dysfunction to teach us that true healing comes only through unconditional love.