Nancy Bailey, Amanda Bailey
"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, the youngest in this poignant, funny, painfully honest story of bitterly divided family. With their father on his deathbed, eight siblings engage in a feud over property and possessions. Born with Down syndrome, 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 some important questions about society, illustrating 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.
Jan Kellis on Goodreads wrote:
Reviewed in the United States on December 3, 2014
This book is both inspirational and heartbreaking.
Heartbreaking because of the way the family in it implodes following the deaths of its matriarch and patriarch. Inspirational (but not saccharine) because of the two women who were battered the most by the implosion retained their senses of humour and loving natures despite it all.
This is not just a book about a family battle however. It is a cautionary tale for parents of people with special needs to ensure they and their carers are looked after.
It also makes those of us without special needs people in our lives pause to reflect on how we think about their capacity to think, live and love. It's my understanding that both sisters contributed to the book and both will eventually have their names on the cover once some final legal hurdles have been leapt.
I came away with a whole new appreciation of what bravery is.
This is the story of a large family--eight siblings--who lived across the street from me when I grew up. I always envied them their large, boisterous family. This is a peek into that family, and what it's really like to have seven brothers and sisters.
Author Nancy Bailey truly captured her dad and her sister Amanda in her descriptions and dialogue. I felt like Amanda was sitting next to me while I read the book! My favorite parts were Amanda's brief entries--I didn't know she was a writer, and I hope she's still writing now in her new home.
Read this book to celebrate the bond of sisters, of daughters and fathers, and the magnetic pull of our own Upper Peninsula.