JUST DON’T FALL by Josh Sundquist


How I Grew Up, Conquered Illness, and Made It Down the Mountain
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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.

Pub Date: Jan. 25th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-670-02146-8
Page count: 324pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2009


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