Book Title: I’ll Push You
Author: Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck
Promotional Blurb: Two best friends, 500 miles, one wheelchair, and the challenge of a lifetime.
Friendship takes on new meaning in this true story of Justin and Patrick, born less than two days apart in the same hospital. Best friends their whole lives, they grew up together, went to school together, and were best man in each other’s weddings. When Justin was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease that robbed him of the use of his arms and legs, Patrick was there, helping to feed and care for him in ways he’d never imagined. Determined to live life to the fullest, the friends refused to give into despair or let physical limitations control what was possible for Justin.
So when Justin heard about the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trek through Spain, he wondered aloud to Patrick whether the two of them could ever do it. Patrick’s immediate response was, “I’ll push you”.
I’ll Push You is the real-life story of this incredible journey. A travel adventure full of love, humour, and spiritual truth, it exemplifies what every friendship is meant to be and shows what it means to never find yourself alone. You’ll discover how love and faith can push past all limits and make us the best versions of ourselves. Source
My Thoughts: You may have gathered by now that I am a sucker for a good walking story. Even better if it is a walking-in-Spain story. However, this book comes at the ol’ camino phenomenon from a completely different perspective.
After someone on a Facebook camino forum suggested I read this book, I immediately Googled and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Having walked three caminos myself, I truly understand the rigours of the path. When I learned that Patrick pushed Justin in a wheel chair all the way from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela, it made my own strolls look pretty mundane. I remember struggling up the Pyrenees on Day 1 thinking that this was the hardest physical thing I had ever done and that was just hauling my own backpack and body weight up the mountains. Never did I dream that those mountains could be even more challenging.
This book is more than a camino story. Yes, it gives you some insight into the mechanics and logistics of walking a camino, but it is the human side of the camino that really shines from the pages.
“People lean in and draw close to one another as stories are shared. There is an intentional nature here, a quality to the conversation that is beautiful to watch unfold. There’s no pretence, no judgement, no hierarchy or status”.
As you can imagine, in amongst all the walking pilgrims, Justin and Patrick stand out. The challenges that they meet on a daily basis are halved and quartered as complete strangers pitch in to help push and pull Justin over some incredibly steep and rough terrain. In the meantime, Patrick faces more emotional and spiritual challenges as he learns that he must open himself up to offers of help and admit that he cannot do everything and he cannot always be in control.
“…people on the Camino tend to be seekers of openness and honesty. They embrace a community in which relationships are treasured. This is an environment where pilgrims feel safe”.
If there is one downside to the book it is that there is a lot of God in it. This may annoy or offend people who are not religious, or not to the same extent as Justin and Patrick. Caminos can be very meditative and spiritual, but not everyone walks the Camino deep in their faith. While I respect Patrick and Justin’s beliefs, I did find all the God-talk a little distracting at times and it detracted from the physical and personal challenges they were undertaking. That is purely my perspective and opinion.
This book would be a good read for those who have already walked the Camino Frances. I found myself reflecting on my own experience over the same terrain, slogging up mountains, down different ones, dodging boulders, through downpours and navigating washed out gullies. At least I only had to worry about doing it on two legs rather than three wheels. A completely amazing and awesome achievement for Justin and Patrick.
I give the book 8/10.
Author bio: Born just over 36 hours apart, Justin and Patrick are life-long friends with a rich, deep relationship that spans beyond 40 years. They travel together, live life together through its ups and downs, and most importantly, will do anything for each other.
Over the past 20+ years, a progressive neuromuscular disease has slowly taken away Justin’s ability to use his arms and legs. From each morning until night, Justin requires daily assistance in every aspect of life such as eating, getting dressed, bathing and even using the restroom.
Though immensely challenging, Justin continues to live life to the fullest and maintains a positive attitude through it all! Source
Author blog or website: https://www.illpushyou.com/
Publisher: Tyndale House
Available from: Book Depository for $29.25
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