This winning memoir of triumph over tragedy tells a story that has deeply affected thousands of readers. When he was just nine years old, Josh Sundquist was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a virulent cancer strain that eventually claimed his left leg. Told in a wide-eyed, often heartbreaking voice, Just Don’t Fall is the astounding story of the boy Josh was and of the young man he became-an utterly heroic struggle through numerous hospitalizations and worse to become an award-winning skier in the Paralympics and renowned motivational speaker. What emerges is one of the most fresh and sincere works of inspiration to come along in years.
I’m not the type of person who enjoys nonfiction. I’ve tried to read some motivational, self-help type books before and the end result is almost always the same: I don’t finish them. I can’t help it, I get bored. I start out with good intentions, and I may even be enjoying the book, but at some point I almost always lose interest. I think that’s because there’s no story, nothing to keep me wondering about what’s going to happen next. And that’s fine, some people are into that kind of thing. I’m just not one of those people.
So, I said all of that just to say this: I never in a million years would have picked this book to read on my own. However, I am glad that Christina picked it because if she hadn’t, I would have seriously missed out. This book was fantastic.
I think my favorite thing about this book was the way that it was written. It was written in what I took to calling “The Voice of Joshes Past”, or first person narrative for anyone who wants to get technical. The BRILLIANT thing though, was that it was done in such a way that you really felt like what you were reading was coming straight from the mind of a nine-year-old boy—Or whatever age he happened to be at that point because as Josh grew up, so did the voice of the story. This was very effective for two reasons:
1. It allowed him to tell his story in the way that only kids can: Candidly and with unfettered honesty. You know how we say that “Kids say the darndest things”? Well, there are several moments in the book that capture this to the fullest. Not only was it endearing, but a lot of the time it was hilarious. I laughed. Out loud. A lot.
2. That same honesty added emotional depth that I’m not sure I was prepared for. Viewing things through his nine-year-old eyes, you get a look at what it’s like to have cancer as a child. You get to see his strength, determination, and his fear. It’s very real and very raw. There were several times throughout the book that the emotions consumed me to the point of tears and I had to remind myself that he beat it. That, he may have lost his leg, but he is alive and well, and I can go look him up on YouTube right this second if I wanted to. It was very powerful stuff.
“I just try to believe that it’s possible. Because if it’s possible, then there’s hope, and if there’s hope, it’s worth my best shot. That’s why I get a bracelet, why I put it on my wrist. It says, ‘Believe.'”
That is probably my favorite quote from this book. I feel that it encompasses the whole moral of the story: That if you want something bad enough and you’re willing to work hard to get it, all you have to do is believe in yourself. Not only did Josh Sundquist fight and win the battle against cancer, he went on to represent his country by skiing in the 2006 Paralympic Games, and he fulfilled his dream of becoming a motivational speaker, all because he chose to believe. Now that’s INSPIRATION.
I’m going to leave you with a few more of my favorite quotes from the book and a couple of Josh’s YouTube videos that I like. If you haven’t read this book already, I highly recommend that you pick it up. You will totally thank me later :)
“…I hope you can learn to appreciate the journey. Because life isn’t always about the destination.”
“To dreams—sometimes, every once in a while, they really do come true…”
“I didn’t come here today to tell you how to live your life or give you answers or advice about your problems,” I say, “because I’m just like you. I’m still trying to figure things out.”
I take a few steps across the stage.
“But there are two things about life that I’m sure are true, and those are the two things I want to talk to you about today.”
I hold up one finger.
“First thing. Repeat after me. Life is tough.”
“Life is tough,” the three hundred voices echo.
I hold up two fingers.
“That’s the bad news. The second part is the good news. Repeat after me. Life is beautiful.”
“Life is beautiful,” they repeat.
“Good job,” I say. “That was…that was perfect.”
Part of a motivational speech that Josh gave. He is a GREAT speaker.
WARNING: This Song Will Get Stuck In Your Head!
Josh on YouTube.