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Just Don't Fall: How I Grew Up, Conquered Illness, and Made It Down the Mountain Hardcover – January 21, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From 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.
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From Booklist

Sundquist was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer as a nine-year-old and soon thereafter lost his leg to the disease. His dad was an aspiring minister and his mother a very conservative Christian who home-schooled her children. This first-person memoir relates his and his family’s struggle with the disease and his evolution into a young man who competed successfully in the 2006 Paralympics in Turin, Italy. Readers expecting an inspirational tale of faith, family, and determination in overcoming a devastating illness will not be disappointed. What will delight readers even more is the unexpected literary skill and absurdist humor employed by Sundquist to recount his journey. Particularly telling are his memories of the years when he was diagnosed and the period immediately after the amputation; his child’s-eye view of the proceedings is both heart-wrenching and laugh-out-loud funny. It’s those Sedaris-like observations—substituted for the overwrought seriousness that fuels many inspirational first-person accounts of adversity overcome—that make this a very special book. --Wes Lukowsky

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; 1St Edition edition (January 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021468
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #927,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Josh Sundquist is a Paralympian, motivational speaker, and Halloween enthusiast.

Here are some other things about him:

Motivational Speaker
Josh Sundquist is a bestselling author, motivational speaker, and Paralympic ski racer. He has spoken across the world to groups ranging from Fortune 500 companies to inner city public schools to the White House.

Cancer Survivor
Josh's journey began at age nine, when he was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer and given a fifty percent chance to live. He spent a year on chemotherapy treatments and his left leg was amputated. Doctors declared Josh cured of the disease at age thirteen and he took up ski racing three years later.

Paralympic Athlete
He trained for the next six years and in 2006 he was named to the US Paralympic Ski Team for the 2006 Paralympics in Turino, Italy. A multi-season athlete, Josh is the only person in history to ever have been named to both the US Paralympic Ski Team and the US Amputee Soccer Team.

Bestselling Author
Josh's memoir, Just Don't Fall, was a National Bestseller in hardcover and is now available in paperback and audiobook. It has been translated into German for a European edition and is also on shelves down under in an Australia/New Zealand edition, for which, as it turns out, no translation was required.

YouTube personality
Best known for his viral hit "The Amputee Rap," Josh has built a YouTube channel with over ten million views and one-hundred-thousand subscribers. In 2010 he was a winner of both the YouTube NextUp and YouTube On The Rise contests.

Doer of Good
Josh served a two-year tenure as the National Spokesperson for the Combined Federal Campaign, an effort that raises over $300 million dollars a year for charities. He has been featured on the back of Doritos bags nationwide for being the founder of LessThanFour.org. For the record, Josh would've preferred to name it GiveMeAHand.com, but that URL was already taken.

Media Attention Receiver
Josh has been featured on CNN, USA TODAY, and NPR, and in many other less-famous and important sounding media outlets.

Josh received a degree in business from the College of William and Mary and a Master's in Communications from the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A truly beautiful, inspirational story about a little boy with a barrel load of "spunk" who fights back against nearly overwhelming adversity. This story grabbed me right from the start because it reminded me of my own son who was in hospitals many times when he was the author's age. I remember my son being absolutely terrified of being put to sleep because he was afraid that he might never wake up again. The author writes so well through the eyes of the child (that he was at the time) of this very same situation, that it gives me shivers thinking of how terrified my own son actually was. I can not even begin to imagine the fear of the author and the pain of his parents when they had to take him in to have his leg amputated.

But this is not a sad story of loss, but an inspiring story of courage. And it is not just about the changes in the life of a boy, but also the transformation of the boy's family. Alternately heartbreaking, thought-provoking and even hilarious (such as thought process of a boy reasoning as to why Jesus never got married), this is a wonderful story of a boy who won't give up, becoming a man who won't give up.

The only problem I found with this book was that it was so absorbing and well-written that I read it thorough non-stop and so had nothing to read the next day. This is not just a great story, but also a great telling of a story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As Josh's former camp counselor, I've heard some of the stories contained in "Just Don't Fall" many times, but I was blown away by the heart-stopping, sometimes heartbreaking details that he shares in his book. His narrative is so full of "aha" moments, you want to wrap up each one and save it for another day. If "Just Don't Fall" doesn't make you reexamine your priorities and stop pitying yourself, nothing will. Stop reading this review - read this book!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What a refreshing story to read. I found Josh Sundquist to be very honest, full of courage, and what a great role model for boys of any age. This will be one book I save for both my boys to read when they get alittle older. As a mom I am always interested in trying to figure out how men and boys think.

What I loved most about Josh is his motatvation to "just do it" and "go for it". For most of his life he seemed to set his sights and heart on certain "goals", or dreams maybe, and then he would just go after it. It never seemed to occur to him that maybe making it on the 2006 Paralympic team might be to far out of his reach. I hope my kids are like that, and show the spit it takes to go for their dreams. I hope my kids have high dreams and the opportunity to go after them.

Young Josh does seem alittle naive (and I love that), but so enduring to me. How wonderful that he would try motivational speaking. What young kid does that on his own?? Great! Young Josh though does seem to be older for his age even before he comes down with cancer. I am not sure if this is wisdom from his parents, faith, personality, but I really enjoyed the mix of being naive and wise beyound his young age. For example...reading self help books to learn about girls and then hoping to win Lydias heart through motivational speaking, yet he ends up potentially saving a students life by encouraging them in his speech.

I am very saddened to see his family go through not only his cancer but his mothers cancer. It is hard to see people suffer. For most families they break just under simple soci pressures, and this life seems to take pleasure in breaking the very faithul. This life can't break them without sickness, cancer, or even death.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a fascinating and inspiring book once you get into it. (See below.) It is the autobiography of someone who, at nine years old, first has cancer, has to suffer through a year of chemotherapy and has his leg amputated. His is diagnosed with cancer and the family is again thrown into turmoil. Despite the setbacks, Josh discovers a passion for skiing and sets of a goal of competing on the U.S. Paralympic team. From the time he sets that goal to the time he realizes it, his journey is not a straight line. This is the story of his journey.

One of the things that makes this story so good is that he tells everything he is thinking, feeling and experiencing the whole way through. It is a real education into what it is like for someone to have cancer and what it takes to deal with the treatment and aftermath. We all know someone who has battled cancer; some have lost limbs or other body parts. Getting the inside scoop of that whole experience is, by itself, worth the read. He answers all of those questions that are too personal to actually ask someone.

Another thing that makes it a great story is the detail of what motivates him to succeed. How a real champion thinks and gets his mind wrapped around doing what it takes to achieve his goals. All of us want to be great. But reading the words of someone who actually went out and attained world-class athlete status is an inspiring look into a way of thinking and viewing the world that most of us never see.

Having said all that, I hate to say anything negative. Truth is, though, the book is written like the prattling of a child and is, at least at first, annoying to read. Nonetheless, the content is superb.
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