book report: The boy who came back from heaven by Malarkey (2010)

Update January 2015: The trip to heaven story is fiction, according to Alex himself.

I thought I was getting another book when I ordered this one. It turns out, there are several books about people's trips to heaven. Even the New Testament has a couple stories of Paul and John visiting heaven. I started reading it after dinner and I could not put it down. I finished it a little after my usual sleep time, but I had to get to the end. It is an amazing story and very well written and edited. The dad's story is interleaved with quotes from those involved in Alex from the scene of the accident to the emergency room to the pastoral care. Alex tells his story simply and with the intent to glorify Jesus. His dad, Kevin, also makes sure we know he is not a saint. He was on his cell phone when the other car struck his. He tells about the arguments with his wife and regrets over words said in anger and frustration. Even towards the end of the book he tells another story of nearly getting physical with a doctor who he strongly disagreed with. He wants us to know that God is good because of who God is, not because of who Kevin is. God answered prayers miraculously. God provided for the family generously through their own church and through other churches who had no relationship with them, but wanted to participate in helping ease the family's burden. Even Alex, who makes a contribution at the end of every chapter, wants us to know that he too has typical adolescent issues, despite visiting heaven, seeing angels, and being confined to a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. Alex loves heaven so much, he has become "that guy" who asks everyone he meets, including all the medical staff, if they are ready to die. He doesn't want anyone to miss the perfection of heaven. I'm glad the details he gives are sparse. I'm glad Kevin is as nonplussed as any person would be with no charismatic background. Kevin understands our doubts. He is not trying to prove that everything Alex says is true or real, but he can point to so many things outside of Kevin's mind that have happened to the glory of God.

Kevin wants his son to be completely healed. However, Alex has been ministered to so powerfully and ministers so powerfully in his physical weakness. In my middle age, I think I'd rather trade my physical abilities for a new dimension of transcendence with God, to experience the things Alex describes. There is a website that was started soon after the accident, where we can read the timeline and updates, through last fall 2010 called PrayforAlex.

I'm not interested in sorting out the theological ramifications of Alex's experiences because he only shares them to encourage us to believe Jesus because He is the most trustworthy and faithful and loving person in the universe. I'm cool with that.

I'm thankful to Tyndale for sending me this book to review for free.


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