Opening Line:"Paul Franklin loved being a driver. He loved being a medic too, but he really loved being a driver"
This is the story of Master Corporal Paul Franklin's journey back from Afghanistan after his vehicle was struck by a suicide bomb. It is also the story of a hero, even if he doesn't consider himself one. Lying on a dusty street Paul stared down at his ruined legs and remembered the promise he'd made to his wife "I will come home" Now he's faced with an even more challenging task then the Taliban, that of rebuilding a new life and learning to walk on two artificial legs.
THE LONG WALK HOME is an inspiring story of strength and courage encompassing not only Paul's personal struggles but those of his wife and young son as well. In the books one year span we travel from the war in Afghanistan to the American medical hospital in Germany and back to Edmonton where after several more surgeries Paul begins his rehabilitation. Author Liane Faulder interviews family, friends, doctors and physiotherapists throughout Paul's recovery and gives us a moving and very personal account of Paul's re-birth year.
We begin in 2006 with Master Cpl Franklin walking his son to school 4 months after the accident. It's a distance of 6 hundred meters and takes just over half an hour but this is a huge accomplishment. Both of Paul's legs have been amputated above the knee and after repeatedly being told he'd never walk again Paul's beat the odds and proved them wrong. The book then jumps around a bit as the author gives us back story on Paul's military career and family life before depositing us in the bombed ruins of his G-wagon.
We're then with his wife Audra as she receives "the call" and subsequently travels to Germany. This is as much her story as his and I was awed by the strength of military spouses. We are faced with some gruelling hospital scenes as everyone comes to terms with a new normal and Paul's agonizing Valentines Day decision regarding his remaining right leg broke my heart. Because Paul and the three others in his vehicle contained the first dead or wounded Canadians in Afghanistan a media circus immediately envelopes the Franklin family who decide instead of hiding they will become the new face of the military, handling it all with stoic grace and determination.
I really enjoyed this book and count myself lucky that we have people like Paul Franklin who are willing to sacrifice without question or regret. In a quote from the last page of the book Paul states that he's left something behind in Afghanistan and doesn't know what it is. He still feels like something is missing, something besides his legs, something inside of him. "I'd love to go back and I don't know why?"