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Messenger: The Legacy of Mattie J.T. Stepanek and Heartsongs Paperback – September 7, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 139 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Incredibly inspiring, and although sad, it's ultimately an uplifting tale of how Mattie inspired Americans to find peace and hope after 9/11. Soul & Spirit Magazine 20101201 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jeni Stepanek is the mother of Mattie Stepanek, the New York Times bestselling author and humanitarian, who passed away in 2004 to Dysautonomic Mitochondrial Myopathy. Jeni lost three other children to that same neuromuscular disease and has the adult-onset form herself. She holds a doctorate in early childhood special education and is an award-winning speaker. She lives in Rockville, Maryland.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; Reprint edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451231147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451231147
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (139 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeni Stepanek, Ph.D., is the mother of the late NY Times bestselling child poet and peacemaker, Mattie J.T. Stepanek, and the mother of three other children, Katie, Stevie, and Jamie, who also died due to a rare and fatal neuromuscular disease. Jeni was diagnosed with the adult onset form of the condition only after the births of all four of her children. Her son, Mattie, created six bestselling books of poetry, and one bestselling collection of peace essays. A published author or editor of numerous books, articles, and chapters, Jeni is also a noted and award-winning motivational speaker on topics ranging from disability and collaboration to bereavement and spirituality. She earned her doctoral degree in early childhood special education from the University of Maryland, College Park. Jeni, who relies on a power wheelchair for mobility and a ventilator for breathing support, serves as the Chair of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation, a National Vice President for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and a Governor for the We Are Family Foundation. Her new book, "Messenger," is the first publication to offer the true story of her son's life, who "was as witty as he was wise." According to Jeni, "Messenger is not a sad story about a child's death, but an inspiring story of young man's life and his very real and ongoing message of hope and peace." She lives in Rockville, Maryland, near the 26 acre Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park and Peace Garden, and still travels with Mattie's service dog, Micah. When she grows up, Jeni wants to be a "beach chair philosopher."
For more information, visit www.mattieonline.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Messenger" tells the story of Mattie Stepanek, the poet and peace advocate who died of a rare form of muscular dystrophy just before his fourteenth birthday in 2004. The book is written by Mattie's mother, Jeni, who lost her three other children to the same disease and, sadly, has an adult onset form of it herself.

What struck me most about Mattie were his preternatural powers, this child-sage who announced that he wanted to be remembered as "a poet, a peacemaker, and a philosopher who played." He was all of that and more, having sold more than two million books of his Heartsongs poetry, co-authored a book on peace with former President Jimmy Carter, and achieved celebrity status himself by forming friendships and appearing with Oprah Winfrey, Larry King, and others. Mattie believed he was a messenger from God, and in his eulogy, Jimmy Carter called him an angel. Reading this book is enough to make you agree.

A quote that I cannot find or attribute was running through my mind while reading this book. It says the problem is not that people die but what dies in them while they live. What this book does so powerfully for adults is reacquaint them with that time in childhood when they were a prophet, before they were trained, conditioned, and shamed out of that best part of themselves in order to adapt to the "real" world. This book and Mattie's legacy teach us to rediscover this part our ourselves and bring it back into the light.
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Format: Hardcover
If inspiration is your need, "Messenger" is the story for you. It takes us through the amazing life of Mattie in a way only a mother could tell us. His life will inspire and help many in the decades to come.

Jeni Stepanek brings the disease of " Dysautonomic Mitochondrial Myopathy" to the forefront of our thoughts. We will forever be indebted to her for telling us about this terrible disease.

Mattie, you are giving and giving beyond your young life.

Author of: Mr. NewHeart - Heart Attack to Transplant and Beyond
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading Jeni Stepanek's wonderful biography of Mattie Stepanek's life and message. The novel beautifully outlines Mattie's trials and tribulations throughout his difficult life as told by his mother. This book shows that Mattie's message of hope and peace is universal and still pertinent in today's world. Jeni Stepanek has captured how Mattie came to be a peacemaker in his life through a superb narrative. This book is well worth your time and will truly change your perspective on life. Buy It!
~ A Fan and Supporter
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book in two sittings. Having a hard time reading it through the tears. These tears are mostly from the overwhelming joy I felt from Jeni (Mattie's Mom). How proud I know that she is of not only Mattie but also of her other three children afflicted with this fatal disease. I felt her pain, her Joy, and her love as a mother. I sat with our nine year old son and read some of Mattie's poetry and explained what message Mattie was spreading. Again, crying and knowing how fortunate I am to share this story with all our children. I will teach our children Mattie's message of peace, love, and of course playing after a storm. Mattie will live in our hearts forever and we are so blessed that God let us borrow Mattie long enough to hear his message. My children will be taught to always be kind to their school mates; especially the children that might need a friend. Mattie is a true inspiration to anyway willing to open their hearts and share their "heart songs". I also pray that Jeni realizes how blessed her children are that they had her to call "Mom". I hope that everyone is lucky enough to read this book; as it is a true honor to know Mattie and his mom. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing Mattie and this beautiful story.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found Jeni's book "Messenger" to be a great read and the most detailed account of the life and feelings of her son Mattie. She filled in the details of Mattie's suffering and dealings with pain in a way that explains what he was dealing with while at the same time not overdoing it and managing to mix in just the right amount of humor and background to keep it about him and the life he led, despite his Muscular Dystrophy. The fact that his work and memory carry on today, five years after his death, just strengthens the hope for peace he sought in his lifetime. I highly recommend this peek into Mattie's life and thank Jeni for bringing it to us and helping us to get to know even more about Mattie J. T. Stepanek.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Messenger" is the message of Mattie Stepanek's life by his mom, Jeni, and, it is also the message of Jeni's life with Mattie. There are, in fact, two messages which are clearly recognizable. They each have the same goal: Peace.

The most recent Mattie book was Just Peace: A Message of Hope In it, Mattie described "The Mosaic Vision of Peace" "Messenger" describes the lengths to which he went to spread his message, to the point of giving his life for it, one might say.

In the process, Jeni was inevitably involved. Her commitment is no less than Mattie's was -- probably even more now that she feels the total weight on her shoulders. This, notwithstanding the frailty of her own health.

Yet, listening to her at a book signing or watching her in any of number of television appearances, she seems to draw on limitless resources to retell the story and its significance while drawing her listeners and viewers increasingly into their own participation.

Jeni describes Mattie's faith and her own as well as the importance that it plays in the successful distribution of the message of peace. Peace after all is a major component of religion.

It is difficult to imagine anyone reading this extremely well-written book without coming away with a deeper commitment to peace, at least in his or her own life.

To the degree that it happens, Jeni I feel sure will believe that her efforts are successful. You are cordially invited to contribute to Mattie's and Jeni's goal.

One of Mattie's favorite songs was: "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." -- a modern version of "Make me a channel of thy peace." by St. Francis of Assisi.
Bob Balkam Rockville,MD
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