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

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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 ...

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Just Don't Fall: A Hilariously True Story of Childhood, Cancer, Amputation, Romantic Yearning, Truth, and Olympic Greatness

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670021468
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/21/2010
  • Pages: 322
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 40 )
Rating Distribution

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(37)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 27, 2011

    Great. Emotional.

    Found Josh through YouTube and decided to read his book. It was written as if he were still a kid and I love it.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2011

    Great Book

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 27, 2011

    Beautiful and inspirational

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 16, 2010

    Candid, heart-warming, heart-breaking...hilarious!

    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

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

    Cat

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2013

    Loved it

    I first saw him on youtube and read it. It was inspirational and inspiring.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 16, 2011

    Very Inspirational

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    inspiring!!!

    over all i thought the book was very inspiring it really got me thinking about my own life i'm not missing a limb or anything thank goodness but like a lot of ppl i have ADHD which st times feels like it cintrols my life i had bad grade my whole life and ended up droping outta hight school after 10th grade and i always told myself i wanted to be a teacher cuz i thought i could do better than my teacher did eith me but first i needed my GED it was really hard to have hope and believe that i could do it thats when i started watching josh's video on youtube and they really helped me get out of my slum and his book was really a bonus really inspiring

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2010

    Honest and real, a must read

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2013

    I got this book by chance for free and know that God put this bo

    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.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2011

    Great!

    See above...Great!!!...

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2011

    I frist saw this on youtoube and i had to get the book and it was amazing

    Omg i loved it it is soo funny and inspanrl

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2011

    awesome

    greatest book

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2014

    De little

    Great halarious book but still toiches your heart

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2011

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    Posted February 8, 2011

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    Posted August 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted October 12, 2011

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    Posted July 12, 2011

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    Posted December 14, 2010

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 40 Customer Reviews

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