I’LL PUSH YOU :
a journey of 500 miles, two best friends, and one wheelchair.
by PATRICK GRAY and JUSTIN SKEESUCK
Tyndale House | June 2017
Hardcover: 272 pages
Genre: Personal Memoir
ARC e-book from edelweiss in exchange for an unbiased review.
Every once in a while a book jumps off the shelf into your consciousness and you realize it will change your life in ways you never expected!
Two best friends, Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck, headed to Spain in 2014 to hike the El Camino de Santiago (also known as The Way of St. James). There was print and video press coverage of their journey but I don’t watch much TV and frankly I missed it all. When I saw this book offered as an advance read, I eagerly checked out the synopsis and investigated clips of the video coverage on You-Tube. I was hooked.
It all began in 2012 when Justin watched a travel program featuring the El Camino and became inspired to hike it. He shared the taped program along with his desire to do the trail with his best friend, Patrick. Without hesitation, Patrick responded, I’ll push you.”
Why do you ask would he need to push Justin? Justin has a rare progressive autoimmune/neuromuscular disease that has left him unable to move his upper and lower limbs.
The friends realized that this was going to require extraordinary effort on both of them to pull this off. Justin’s daily medical and personal care would have to be undertaken by Patrick. That full time job would be accomplished after grueling day pushing, tugging, lugging, and carrying Justin through mud holes and over steep mountain terrain.
Two years later, on June 3, 2014 this awesome twosome set on their life altering 34 days journey.
This deeply personal memoir interlaces the arduous hike with personal vignettes of their shared childhoods, personal struggles with addiction, marriages, spiritual growth – and most importantly their love and loyalty to each other. Their relationship defines the meaning of friendship.
As a long distance hiker myself, I acknowledge the bonds and community of fellow pilgrims that develop in the intimacy of a long walk. The reader will be amazed at the selflessness of others to slow their own Camino experience to lend a hand when needed. I personally wasn’t surprised when complete strangers were willing to discuss their reasons for hiking, often exposing their life warts, and to share their difficult internal journey toward personal peace. It happens on the trail but it will probably come as a surprise to the non-hiking community.