“Eloquent…and fiercely powerful.”
Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living is among the best books on death and grief, grief and bereavement, and on changing one’s life story.
Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss and Bold Living (Books & Books Press, 2014) hinges on the day Nancy Sharp delivered premature twins and learned her husband’s brain cancer returned after eighteen months in remission. In plainspoken language the story moves back through Nancy and her husband’s courtship and marriage—and forward through his death when the twins were two and a half, he was not-quite forty and Nancy was thirty-seven. Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living will appeal to anyone who has experienced the death of a spouse, death of a partner, or death of a loved one.
The final section follows the family’s move to Denver in 2006. Through a magazine feature on eligible bachelors, Nancy met, fell in love with, and married Steve, a popular television anchor turned politician as well as a widower who’d lost his wife to cancer, and was raising two sons a decade older than Nancy’s twins. Nancy gives us this hopeful ending, while also letting us into the challenges of blending the past and present at once.
To read an excerpt, see Stand Up 2 Cancer’s page.
The same excerpt was also featured by Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.
“An unflinching memoir of love and loss and hope. Nancy Sharp’s honesty and hard-earned wisdom make this book essential reading for anyone facing adversity–which is all of us.”
Ann Hood, Author of Comfort, The Red Thread, and The Obituary Writer
“The Nancy Sharp you will meet in this moving memoir is an exemplar of honesty, courage, and grace. I know of no other book that addresses the pain of loss and the challenge of recovery with the fierce intimacy displayed in Both Sides Now.”
Daniel Okrent. Author, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition; former editor, Life magazine
“Both Sides Now is simultaneously devastating, inspiring and moving. The true story on changing one’s life story resonates with the bittersweet tragicomedy that is life; at once too strange to be real, often funny, excruciating, and deeply romantic. Written by a courageous woman who has “been there,” her writing painstakingly makes the personal universal. She instills hope after loss, and gives us a literary primer on “how-to” survive when life hands you the unimaginable.”
Susan Cartsonis. Producer, “What Women Want,” “Where The Heart Is,” “Aquamarine,” and “No Reservations”
“Nancy Sharp’s elegant, heart-breaking, life-affirming memoir is both a meditation on grief and a call to action. Having lost her husband to cancer while they were both in their thirties and left with twin toddlers who had been born prematurely to bring up on her own, the author knows that no matter how tempting it might have been, paralysis was not an option, and thus she chronicles her journey of defiant healing. Written in a voice that is at some times as intimate as a lover’s whisper and at others as clear and public and measured as a church bell peeling in the distance, Sharp’s book grabs life by its tattered collar, examining the ambiguity and the complexity, the mess and the mystery. In the tradition of such classics as A Grief Observed, Death Be Not Proud, and The Year of Magical Thinking, Both Sides Now appears slated to join the rare but wondrous ranks of personal writing raised to the level of universal appeal.”
Madeleine Blais. Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Uphill Walkers: Memoir of A Family and In These Girls, Hope is A Muscle
“The immediacy, candor and the bravery of this book are impressive beyond even its devastating facts. Nancy Sharp’s memoir gives new life to the phrase ‘grace under pressure.'”
Richard Todd. Former magazine and book editor at The New England Monthly and The Atlantic Monthly. Author of The Thing Itself and co-author with Tracy Kidder of Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction
“What Nancy Sharp lost early in her adult life might have made her a realist of the wary sort, but that would have been too easy for this resilient and determined writer, whose life-force was too strong for death. Sharp’s language of loss is unafraid of mourning and dirge, so that when she moves from elegy to celebration, it feels hard-won, authentic, believable. Her writing opens first to hope and possibility, and then to the certainty of renewed delight. In her good company, we open to these gifts ourselves.”
Diana Hume George. Author of The Lonely Other: A Woman Watching America. Co-Director, Chautauqua Writers‘ Festival. Contributing Editor, Chautauqua Journal. Professor of English Emerita, Penn State University
“The stars were on their side and then they weren’t. In Both Sides Now Nancy Sharp unfolds the destruction of American optimism by a triple punch from horrific fate. She does it in such a transparent, direct way that the reader gets the benefit of the experience. This is a book in which you learn about life.”
Suzannah Lessard. Author of The Architect of Desire: Beauty and Danger in the Stanford White Family and the recently completed The Absent Hand: A Meditation on the American Landscape. Former editor, Washington Times and staff writer at The New Yorker Magazine
As a chaplain and grief counselor, I am asked to read many books written by grievers about their grief journey. Never before has a book made me feel as connected to the writer as Nancy Sharp’s Both Sides Now: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Bold Living.
Brenda F. Atkinson, M.Div, CT, Continuing Care Coordinator, Thomas McAfee Funeral Homes for Grief Perspectives
“Sharp’s memoir tells of a familiar story of becoming widowed and finding a way forward, but this book stands out for its uncommon insight, wit, empathy and powerful momentum.”
Rev. Paul A. Metzler, DMin, Editor, Association Death Education Counseling Forum, Books Review Editor, Omega–Journal of Death and Dying
“This is a book about loss. But it is also a story about rebounding and the power of attitude. You can’t help but cheer from the sidelines as Nancy Sharp builds a second life for herself and her young twins after her husband’s premature death. Having two survived two life-threatening bouts of cancer, I was very moved by the insights Sharp provides from the perspective of a caregiver. Both Sides Now is a brave, inspiring story.”
George Karl. Head Coach, Denver Nuggets, cancer survivor
“Nancy Sharp’s story will break your heart while lifting you at the same time. This is an intimate portrait of one family that speaks to all of us because life and death are the purest parts of the human experience. Sharp takes us on a physical and spiritual journey, allowing us to think more reflectively about the choices we make in our own lives. This beautifully written book will teach you many things about strength, perseverance and what it means to reach for the mountains.”
Terrie M. Williams. Author of Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting, The Personal Touch: What You Really Need to Succeed in Today’s Fast-Paced Business World, and A Plentiful Harvest: Creating Balance and Harmony Through the Seven Living Virtues
“The surreal and dislocating nature of ‘the first contact’ with cancer never loses its potent sting; it is such a cruel disease to everyone it touches. Cancer may be relentless, but so are we, and even though there are no true wins or losses, we struggle on, as I believe this is fundamental to the nature of our humanity to fight for what’s really important. Perhaps it’s this terrible struggle that ultimately enables us to heal.”
Dr. Michael Sisti. James G. McMurtry III MD Associate, Professor of Clinical Neurosurgery, Radiation Oncology & Otolaryngology, Co-Director, the Center for Radiosurgery, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital
“Sharp’s memoir that is simultaneously understated and passionate in its expression, confronts the reader with the dualities of birth and death, love and loss, hope and despair. These universal forces are starkly evident in Sharp’s portrayal of her twins, born prematurely into a world where their father is fighting for his life. The children’s fierce attachment to their father in the not quite three years that they ‘have’ him, their bewilderment at his disappearance, and their spirited determination to keep him close in their lives, infuse the narrative with a unique poignancy and power. The children’s voices, rarely heard in the literature on ‘living through loss’, remind us all of the resilience of hope and renewal in our lives.”
Barbara M. Sourkes Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine. John A. Kriewall and Elizabeth A. Haehl Director, Palliative Care Program, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford
“Thank you Nancy Sharp for this gift. Your brilliant writing compels the reader to acutely feel your love, shock, pain, hope and resolve. We are right there with you and your beautiful family on the journey and cheer as you show up, participate, and grab at life as though it’s your last day. Once I was your Rabbi. In this wonderful book you are mine.”
Rabbi Robert Levine. Senior Rabbi, Congregation Rodeph Shalom. Author of What God Can Do For You Now: For Seekers Who Want to Believe and Where Are You When I Need You? Befriending God When Life Hurts
“Nancy Sharp’s Both Sides Now adds another verse to the Joni Mitchell classic. Love’s illusion is resolved in this courageous tribute to loss and living on. A young widow with twin toddlers in tow and grief’s mud caked in her soul picks herself up and heads west. The open sky beckons. She looks heavenward and feels the presence of her beloved Brett and shakes off the mud to breathe in new life. In the words of the Psalms, “those who sow in tears will reap in joy.” Sharp takes us through all the seasons. Hers is a factual tale of two cities and an inspiring tale of two loves.”
Dr. David Sanders. Clinical psychologist and founder and director of Kabbalah Experience. Author of Neshama: The Journey of the Soul and Eternal Letters
Nancy Sharp’s book, Both Sides Now, is a soaring story of one woman’s journey through love and loss and back to love again. The writing is heartbreaking and ultimately full of hope – part confession and part prayer with emotions so raw and honest that the reader can’t help but share her sorrows and rejoice at the end of the tunnel. Both Sides Now is a book for anyone who needs strength to come into the light from a very dark place.
Vicky Collins. Emmy award-winning television producer.President, Teletrends Television Production and Development
“Nancy Sharp tells a story of life in a story of death. After you discover all she lost and, then, found again, you will hug your children, husband, wife, family and friends an extra time or two.”
Walt Harrington. Author of The Everlasting Stream, The Beholder’s Eye, Crossings and Intimate Journalism
“This is not merely one of those ‘one-day’ books that we all love to love–a book so gripping and moving and fleet of foot that the ending won’t wait for tomorrow. Instead, Nancy Sharp transmutes a shocking story of love and loss into a work of literature that rewards rereading, one that ruminates on life, death, and everything in between with a poet’s sensitivity to language, a psychologist’s grasp of complicated emotions, and a wife and mother’s sense of unbounded love.”
Jonathan Gill. Author of Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History, From Dutch Village to Capital of the Black America. Professor of American literature and history at the University of Amsterdam
“Having played a small part in this story as it unfolded, I never imagined anyone would be able to capture its drama, pathos, spirit, and lessons. But that is what Nancy Sharp has done, and she has done so with the same grace she exhibited when the narrative was first being lived. She has written a powerful, instructive book.”
Erik Kolbell. Psychotherapist, Minister and Author of The God of Second Chances and Were You There?