Great stories have their way of finding Sharon Kennedy. It helps, of course, to have a friendly, and inquisitive nature, of which Kennedy certainly possesses. 

But more than that, Kennedy has a genuine fascination for those around her, a yearning to celebrate what makes people unique, and the ability to find that thread that connects us all. Kennedy does just that in her latest book, Struggle & Strength, Eight Ordinary Women with Lives Most Unusual. She will share some of her book at a special engagement at AL!VE in Charlotte on Friday, June 21 at 8:30 a.m.

“The entire book is about resilience and what these eight women overcame,” Kennedy said. “After I completed my interviews and research, I looked at definite themes that arose, resilience, and being rooted in place and values.”

One woman’s story hits close to home for readers in Eaton County. It’s the remarkable story of Gladys “Rusty” Deland of Bellevue. Kennedy met Deland a few years back while both were working out at AL!VE.

“I looked over and there was this 95-year-old woman sitting at the leg press, using the same weight I was using,” Kennedy recalls. “I couldn’t believe it.”

Deland’s story, however, goes much deeper than her active lifestyle. It delves into a difficult start as a single mother and how she was able to pick herself up through hard work.

“Her longevity has nothing to do with having an easy life,” Kennedy said. “Her early stories can be hard to read. But, she picked herself up. Her story, overall, is very special.”

Struggle & Strength is broken down into small stories about each of the eight women, how Kennedy came to meet them, their personal stories, and why they were included for the book.

Kennedy will participate in a second community engagement in July at the Charlotte Community Library. She will speak about her book and possible upcoming projects on Wednesday, July 31 at 6:30 p.m.

Kennedy, who moved to the Charlotte community six years ago and has since split time between Charlotte and Tuscon, Ariz., said her next project will be a personal essay about the Charlotte community. She will take a look at the community’s history, and a couple of events she feels makes the community unique.

“I’ve always loved learning people’s stories,” Kennedy said. “I can look back and realize that I’ve been pretty fortunate in the live I’ve had. It leaves me even more impressed with how the women in these stories overcame hard times.”

Struggle & Strength can be purchased at either upcoming event or on