Title: Still Standing
Author: Jess Quinn
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Reviewed by HAZEL REID
You’ll likely know kiwi Jess Quinn from her advocacy online. Jess has taken her story and put it to paper in Still Standing: What I’ve Learnt from a Life Lived Differently. Jess’ motto is “one day you will tell your story of how you overcame, and it will be someone else’s survival guide” so it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that she has rawly and honestly opened up about her journey in this book, it even has testimonials from TV icons Hilary Barry and Suzy Cato.
I’ve seen Jess sharing parts about her journey online for a little while now, she regularly openly shares her life, one ‘lived differently’ as the book says. Jess has an incredible attitude that shines in her advocacy work online, a journey that started with a photo posted on Instagram taken by her friend Jono Parker. She gives a voice to being ‘super-abled’ and discusses the thought of “perspective is a beautiful thing” in her book.
Before reading this I didn’t know in-depth how Jess’ journey with her leg had really started and as I read on in the book, I found tears welling up in my eyes as I truly felt the words of the story being told – I felt for young Jess (and the Jess who dealt with so many challenges as the years went on), and I also felt for her family, friends and the community around her.
I have been inspired by Jess (although now I understand after reading the book ‘inspire’ may not be the right word!) as I believe lived experience storytelling can literally change the world (and isn’t the easiest thing to do!) and after reading more about her journey more in-depth, I truly admire the way she has handled herself in many difficult situations and can’t even imagine having something like that happen to you at such a young age let alone publicly share all the high’s and low’s of it!
Jess speaks about using her platform for advocacy, like when she petitioned in 2019 for transparency around retouching of photographs of models which gained over 10,000 signatures. I admire the way she positively speaks up and genuinely wants to see change, using her lived experiences to show the way forward – all of this also shows that no matter what life throws at you, you can have the ability to keep going. “What has always mattered is that I have water in my glass at all”.
When Jess called life a big puzzle, I related to this and also think it’s something many people will resonate with in one way or another. I took this as it’s almost as if you never know which puzzle piece you’re going to have to put in next or actually what the full puzzle picture makes but I guess that’s life! I loved when Jess said “play the hands you are dealt as if they are the hands you wanted.”
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“I realised that maybe I just need help sometimes, and that’s okay”. Cheers to your next chapter Jess, the ‘season of stability’ as you put it (#healtheleg)!. Jess’ book Still Standing is available now and I highly encourage you to read it, I think by the end you’ll have learned something and agree with Jess that “perspective is a beautiful thing”!