Just Don't Fall: How I Grew up, Conquered Illness, and Made It down the Mountain
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Just Don't Fall: How I Grew up, Conquered Illness, and Made It down the Mountain

4.8 41
by Josh Sundquist
     
 

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Read Josh Sundquist's posts on the Penguin Blog.

One moment Josh Sundquist was your typical energetic and inquisitive nine year- old boy. The next, his entire life changed when he was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a particularly virulent cancer strain that would eventually claim Josh's left leg. Told in a wide-eyed, winning, heartbreaking voice, Just

Overview

Read Josh Sundquist's posts on the Penguin Blog.

One moment Josh Sundquist was your typical energetic and inquisitive nine year- old boy. The next, his entire life changed when he was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma, a particularly virulent cancer strain that would eventually claim Josh's left leg. Told in a wide-eyed, winning, heartbreaking voice, Just Don't Fall is the story of the boy Josh was and of the young man he became. His story begins in a small, close-knit Southern town, where his father-an aspiring pastor questioning his faith, and his mother— homeschooling an ever- growing brood of children-struggle to make ends meet. Josh journeys through a dizzying array of hospitals and eventually lands at a pivotal place: the nearby mountain, where he makes his first attempt to ski.

It is on the slopes, and later, on the race course, that Josh's world bursts wide open in a way no one could have ever anticipated. The inspiration to ski, however, and to become a champion, is not all that Josh has to contend with- there is adolescence to navigate, the transition from homeschool to public high school, and girls. There is an increasingly turbulent and difficult home life, with another cancer scare, a wayward brother, and dwindling finances to pay for training. Finally, there is the wild, bumpy road to the Paralympics in Turin, with a misanthropic coach, training in the Rockies, and a timeless friendship with a charismatic, imposing Brooklyn homeboy named Ralph.

Through it all, Josh is forced to question his abilities, his sanity, his will, his faith in himself, and his faith in God. Because of, not despite, these myriad obstacles in his path, Josh is able to achieve a genuine grace: the grace to risk failure and to succeed. It is the grace of a young boy becoming a man and of a champion realizing his greatest dream. Josh Sundquist shows us with charm, humility and remarkable strength that even if we fall, this inner grace can lift us up and carry us over the many mountains we all must face.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"What a voice! I loved this book, every page."
Kelly Corrigan, New York Times best-selling author of The Middle Place

"Inspiring. Courageous. Sometimes heartbreaking. The tough lesson that less than a hundred percent is still all right."
John le CarrT

"I didn't want to put this book down. It was more than the amazing story-it was the honesty of a voice that spoke, without a whiff of melodrama, about loss and worry and determination."
Elizabeth Strout, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge

"Just Don't Fall is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read-not to mention poignant and funny. If I ever find myself wallowing in self-pity, I plan to reach for Josh Sundquist's book."
A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Know-It-All and The Year of Living Biblically

"Josh Sundquist has not only written an inspirational memoir about elegantly and deftly triumphing over adversity, but he has also written a fascinating and hilarious one...incredible energy...moving and deeply affecting."
Isabel Gillies, author of the New York Times bestselling Happens Every Day

"A remarkable account of a young man's triumph over adversity. It shows that disability need not be a barrier to great achievement. This book is brimming with hope and humor, joy and courage, but most of all love."
Daniel Tammet, New York Times bestselling author of Born on a Blue Day

"His story made me laugh out loud and cry at the most unexpected moments. He is funny, poignant, irreverent, and full of life."
Donna VanLiere, New York Times bestselling author of Finding Grace

"I finished this book with a profound sense of awe ... a phenomenally gifted writer. Bravo for this original voice-the memoir shelves shifted for Frank McCourt, and they will shift once again for Josh Sundquist."
Elizabeth Hyde, author of In the Heart of the Canyon and The Abortionist's Daughter

"An absolutely beautiful story of strength, integrity, and passion for life. His wry humor and rich evocation of the people in his life make this an entirely engrossing read, and his storytelling gifts are clear. I look forward to reading whatever this talented young writer comes up with next."
Marya Hornbacher, author of Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

Dennis Drabelle
…in telling the story of his struggles against the disease that was to claim his leg, and of his adventures as a downhill skier in the Paralympics, Sundquist has perfected the laugh-so-you-don't-cry approach.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Sundquist proves to be equally enthralling and witty at the written word in this sometimes heartbreaking, mostly uplifting memoir. Diagnosed with cancer at the age of nine, Sundquist eventually is forced to deal with the harsh reality of losing his left leg to amputation. Yet even at his young age, he deals with the setback with courage and determination, eventually setting his sights on becoming a ski racer at the 2006 Paralympics in Italy. While skiing becomes a large part of his life, his story is just as much about growing up in small-town Virginiaand, for example, dealing with common high school heartbreak. His dreams of a world ski racer are eventually met, because in his words, "I don't have time to fail". Some of his retelling of events at times seem over the top, but overall Sundquist is an honest and charming writer. And there are countless lighhearted anecdotes, like his desire to stop being homeschooled and attend public school partly for the pizza without whole-wheat crust. The final chapter provides a fitting conclusion to Sundquist's, proving that life is more about the journey than the destination.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
From Paralympic skier Sundquist, an absorbing debut memoir about conquering nearly insurmountable odds. At the age of nine, the author was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, which resulted in the amputation of his left leg at the hip. While he endured the unimaginable-the loss of a limb, a year-long stint of chemotherapy and the possibility that his cancer had returned-his narrative covers events that will be surprisingly familiar to most. His intimate encounters with cancer and its life-altering consequences form the backbone, but the story is really about a boy becoming a man, experiencing the trials, insecurities, rejections, triumphs and transformative realizations. Sundquist chronicles his diagnosis, surgery and treatment; he enumerates his fears, which have less to do with his amputation and being "normal" and more to do with meeting girls, making friends and finding purpose; he discusses the transformation of his family over the years, particularly that of his brother; he articulates the evolution of his faith. Compellingly, the author's voice matures along with his childhood and adolescent self. Sundquist's account of his battle with cancer and subsequent quest for the Paralympic ski team gives insight into a boy's raw, honest experience as it occurs; the reader experiences the author's boyhood as he did. The beginning is a little rocky, providing little exposition or context, but the author quickly reaches a steady stride that will keep readers transfixed. A simple, straightforward story that successfully captures the complexities of growing up under the shadow of cancer. Agent: Paul Cirone/The Friedrich Agency

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670021468
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/21/2010
Pages:
322
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

John le Carré
"Inspiring. Courageous. Sometimes heartbreaking. The tough lesson that less than a hundred percent is still all right."

Isabel Gillies
"Josh Sundquist has not only written an inspirational memoir about elegantly and deftly triumphing over adversity, but he has also written a fascinating and hilarious one. His vivid, warm and true voice keeps you close to him and his extraordinary experience from the first page to the last. This is not just a mushy self help tale about surviving the odds, it's a victory of storytelling. There is an incredible energy to this book that catches you by surprise - it is moving and deeply affecting."--(Isabel Gillies, author of the New York Times bestselling HAPPENS EVERY DAY)
Daniel Tammet
"A remarkable account of a young man's triumph over adversity. It shows that disability need not be a barrier to great achievement. This book is brimming with hope and humor, joy and courage, but most of all love."--(Daniel Tammet, New York Times bestselling author of BORN ON A BLUE DAY)
A.J. Jacobs
"JUST DON'T FALL is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read -- not to mention poignant and funny. If I ever find myself wallowing in self-pity, I plan to reach for Josh Sundquist's book."--(A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of THE KNOW-IT-ALL and THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY)
Marya Hornbacher
"Josh Sundquist has managed to turn overwhelming pain and struggle into an absolutely beautiful story of strength, integrity, and passion for life. His wry humor and rich evocation of the people in his life make this an entirely engrossing read, and his storytelling gifts are clear. I am astonished by his ability to move mountains in his life, and the rest of us can learn much from his willingness to dive headfirst into the pursuit of his dreams. I look forward to reading whatever this talented young writer comes up with next."--(Marya Hornbacher, author of WASTED: A MEMOIR OF ANOREXIA AND BULIMIA)
Elizabeth Strout
"I didn't want to put this book down. It was more than the amazing story -- it was the honesty of a voice that spoke, without a whiff of melodrama, about loss and worry and determination. Sundquist has presented us with his tale of remarkable grit, and we see what can (and cannot) be accomplished in the glow of a family's poignant love."--(Elizabeth Strout, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning OLIVE KITTERIDGE)
Elizabeth Hyde
"I finished this book with a profound sense of awe. Not just because of what Josh Sundquist has gone through as a cancer survivor/amputee, or what he's made of his life as a Paralympic skier and motivational speaker - but rather because on top of it all, he's a phenomenally gifted writer. With wit, candor, and oftentimes poignant understatement, he magically captures the thought process of a young boy coming of age under the most remarkable of circumstances. Bravo for this original voice -- the memoir shelves shifted for Frank McCourt, and they will shift once again for Josh Sundquist."--(Elizabeth Hyde, author of IN THE HEART OF THE CANYON and THE ABORTIONIST'S DAUGHTER)

Meet the Author

JOSH SUNDQUIST was a member of the 2006 US Paralympics Ski Team in Turin, Italy. A graduate of the College of William & Mary and the University of Southern California, he is the founder of LessThanFour.org, the world’s largest online community for amputees and is a nationally known motivational speaker. He is 25 years old and lives in the Washington, DC area.

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Just Don't Fall 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Devon Thompson More than 1 year ago
Found Josh through YouTube and decided to read his book. It was written as if he were still a kid and I love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book cause it hits close to home, my son had his left leg amputated due to a disease as well. This is a very touching book that i hope to let my son read one day.
OliviaJS More than 1 year ago
Josh Sundquist told the tale, in the perspective of his young self, of the hardships and miracles of his childhood as an amputee and experiencing cancer at a young age. The imagery that is used is breathtaking and brought tears to my eyes, but at the same time kept me giggling throughout the whole book. Just don't fall is truly astonishing and I would recommend it to anyone looking for inspiration.
KaySWalsh More than 1 year ago
The boy-next-door goes from losing a leg to cancer at age 9 to skiing as a member of the 2006 U. S. Paralympic Ski Team. Josh tells his story as though you were sitting on his shoulder sharing every encounter. Be prepared for a wild ride!! Josh shares of all the normal, often awkward, things most boys experience growing up... a first love, siblings, communicating with parents, wanting to go out for the soccer team, etc. Then he shares what is different...losing his hospital roommate to cancer, being interviewed on the Miracle Network, finding someone to teach a teenager with one leg to ski, etc., all while living in a small city in Virginia. Along with all these events, add Josh's personality and spirit. He is extremely intelligent, extremely motivated, an extreme risk taker, extremely humorous, etc. In other words, Josh is extreme. For the sake of full disclosure, I live in the city where Josh grew up. He was about to leave for college when my family moved to Harrisonburg, VA, and I never met him. However, he is somewhat of a folk hero, not just because of the difficulties of his life but for the joy and hope he has given to individuals and this community. When his name is mentioned, there are always smiles. Everyone has a Josh story and a special place for the miracle guy... miracles both earned and bestowed. If you have never heard of Josh Sundquist, you should. His is a fabulous story of growth, faith, pain and joy. You gotta read this book! Reviewer's rating: PG-13
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first I was a little sceptical about reading ,but my older was reading it and told me it was a good book so I decided to read it. That will probily be one of the best decitions I have ever made. The book was awesome! It was sad,funny,joyful,and inspiring. It let me get inside other person's world. It helped me so that I would understand other people like that better. It was an amazing book. So if you are wndering if you should get this book ,get it. It will help you so much. Now and more years to come.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first saw him on youtube and read it. It was inspirational and inspiring.
Dupreee More than 1 year ago
Josh provides insight into what it was like to deal with a potentially fatal disease and the loss of a limb at a young age. He works through depression, puberty, going to college etc. as he is trying to come to terms with his disability to attain his goals.
ffashley More than 1 year ago
Josh Sundquist does what few authors ever do... He tells us like it is. It is truthful and real, something you rarely ever see. He does not edit how he feels or what he thought throughout his journey. The tales of success and failure show us that it is OKAY to be who we are, for we can always triumph. This book should not only be a must read for you, but also a book you buy for anyone you know-no matter what stage in life they are in. This is a book that needs to be added to your collection immediately, and read even quicker. So please, quit reading this review- there is something better to be read. That "something better" is Just Don't Fall by Josh Sundquist.
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Great halarious book but still toiches your heart
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got this book by chance for free and know that God put this book in my hands. Very inspiring story about faith and life. I am not an amputee but I was so inspired by this book. Thank you Josh for sharing your journey with us.
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Merrilee Gibbs Davolt More than 1 year ago
See above...Great!!!...
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Catherine Pellagrino More than 1 year ago
Omg i loved it it is soo funny and inspanrl
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