By Will Fairless
Paige and Josh Wetzel, two Auburn residents, have written a book about the physical and emotional recovery theyʼve gone through since Josh lost both of his legs in Afghanistan. “Beautifully Broken: An Unlikely Journey of Faith” will be released on Oct. 13 and is available to be pre-ordered now.
The bookʼs first version was a journal that Paige kept during that difficult time of their life. “The thing I really had on my heart was that both our children were born after Josh had been injured,” Paige said, “so they never experienced the long-term stay in the hospital, and I was unsure they would ever truly understand what their dad had gone through.”
Journaling was a way for their story to be recorded, originally so that it wouldnʼt be forgotten by the time the Wetzelsʼ children were old enough to hear it. As the journal grew into a book, and as the audience expanded from two children to, potentially, many more people, Paige and Josh experienced the challenge of reliving its subject matter.
“It was not very good writing at first; it was just restating the facts,” Paige said.
She joked that Joshʼs favorite part of the process was when their editors would ask him to expand on how he was feeling during an event described in the book. “When she says it was my favorite part, she really means it was like nails on a chalkboard for me,” Josh said. “Pulling teeth” is the phrase Paige used.
The book is not just about Joshʼs injury and physical recovery. Paige said that their recovery wasnʼt nearly over when Josh left the Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital after a two-year stay there. “We wrote about the first couple of years as civilians, and how we tried so hard to get out of [Walter Reed] just to enter a world where nobody was like us and nobody understood what we had gone through,” Paige said.
It is also not solely a sad story, if it is sad at all. “When I got injured, my family rallied around me and made sure that I knew that I was supported, but that they werenʼt gonna let me feel sorry for myself,” Josh said, “My uncles, when they came to the hospital to visit for the first time… they let me know that they fully expected me to play basketball at our family Christmas.”
They wrote about their life after leaving the hospital, and Auburn is an important part of their story, a fact that they hope piques Auburn fansʼ interest in the book. The audience for this book is much larger than just Auburn fans, though; Josh said, “We kind of wrote it in a way that it would target a wide audience: people looking for hope in a dark time, military people, military husbands and wives.”
The two hope that the book can serve a purpose greater than being an interesting read. “If I could envision what would be my dream for this project,” Paige said, “it would be that it helped a veteran help their family understand a little bit of what they went through.” She hopes the book could relieve the burden some veterans carry of not being understood, that it could get them unstuck from the no-manʼs land between wanting to communicate with their families and not wanting to face the emotions that communication would prompt.
The book can be pre-ordered on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and at many other stores. All of the links to order Beautifully Broken: An Unlikely Journey of Faith can be found by searching the title at hachettebookgroup.com.