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The North Side of Down: A True Story of Two Sisters Paperback – November 29, 2014
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"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."
-Sue Harrison, Author, "Mother Earth, Father Sky"
"....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."
-Mike Wall, "Every Good Morning"
"This (The North Side of Down) is such an honest book. It was so good to hear the point of view of a sibling, and the person with Down syndrome: so many of the books are by parents. There are so many issues that one doesn't think about."
-Dr. Paul Austin, Author, "Beautiful Eyes; A Father Transformed"
"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."
- Lisa Morguess, "Disability In Literature"
"One of my kids has Down syndrome... I found the book resonated personally with me at every turn. I know that until I read the book, my main concerns were of the outside world, strangers who may not respect or understand my son, but now I realize that I may be missing something crucial that is right under my nose."
- Jisun Lee, "Kimchi Latkes"
From the Author
THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN joins the select few books actually written by an author (or co-author) with Down's syndrome.
Amanda has long been a writer at heart. When she was a baby, she used to climb the stairs and sit with me in my bedroom while I wrote page after page on spiral-bound note paper. I wrote and illustrated hundreds of pages of horse stories while my patient companion was content to just sit cross-legged on the bed near my desk, watching me or quietly coloring or just waiting.
At that time, I didn't realize the impact this was having. Amanda was just a baby then. I graduated, moved away to Alaska and then the western states. In the meantime, Amanda grew up illiterate. Finally, when she was around 20 years old, I had moved back to Michigan and was spending lots of time with her. I sat with her in the big gold chair in the living room looking at the back of an Eddie Rabbitt album. She was a huge country music fan. I was reading the words to, "I Love a Rainy Night."
She was attentive as always, and I began pointing out the letters and sounding them out. When we reached the end of each line, we would sing it.
Perhaps it was the simplistic repetition of the song, but I thought she was catching on.
Later, watching a "Hooked on Phonics" infomercial, I told my then-husband, "This might work for Amanda. They use music, see?"
He wanted no part of spending $200 on that program. So, I saved my money and ordered one, and brought it home on my next trip North, along with a couple of Dr. Seuss children's books. Mom and Dad wisely sent the program to Amanda's school. It not only helped Amanda. but other kids in her special ed class learned to read, too. When I asked Dad about her progress later, Dad said, "Yes, she is learning, but it's going to be limited."
I will never forget the first time Amanda stumbled through, "Green Eggs and Ham." I was in tears. She was 21 years old by then, and opening a whole new door for herself.
From that point on, the household exploded with paper and notebooks. Amanda was filling every spiral-bound notebook in sight, practicing her writing in her shaky, angular cursive hand. She copied pages of old paperbacks. Eventually she began writing her own thoughts; page after page.
A writer was born.
When finally she began journaling after our Mom's death, I asked her, "How would you like to write a book with me? We can write about our mother, and Dad, and our experiences with the family."
She loved the idea. We pored over our story, building it one page at a time, editing and discussing and reading to each other. We lost Mom, and we cried and wrote. We lost Dad, and we cried and wrote some more. Our siblings battled over Amanda's guardianship, and we wrote on in determination. We were partners in a combined effort. This was our project; our journey. When I asked her if she was ready to become a published author, she said, "I cannot wait! I. CAN. NOT. WAIT!"
So the little girl who quietly sat by has become a literary force in her own right. Unencumbered by her disability, she forges onward.
"Limited," indeed! ...If Dad could see her now.
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Top customer reviews
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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.
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.
Nancy is part of a big family full of typically demanding and sometimes manipulative personalities.
She enjoys a relationship with her Downs Syndrome sister Amanda with fairness and love, meanwhile surviving an interesting life of sibling and parental drama.
She finds solace in her art and animals, while the usual drama is dialed up after her parents die.
Like my own, this family proves that no, real families are not 'The Brady Bunch.' Somehow, it is comforting and therapeutic to read and watch accounts of other real-life big families where, like myself, the most special kids are devalued in the beige-colored glasses of 'normal' relatives.
I laughed, I cried, but mostly enjoyed this story of 2 sisters that know what the meaning of love and loyalty. A recommended read for anyone, any age that enjoys a good family read.
Thank you ladies for sharing these memoirs with us. I am sure some of them hurt to remember and put down on paper but you are all the better for it. Hopefully, some day I will be able to meet Amanda as I have already met Nancy and Clifford.