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Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope Paperback – March 31, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
In a widely reported incident in 2006, Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak, students at an evangelical college in Indiana, and their families were victims of a ghastly mistake: the wrong girl was identified as the survivor of a car crash that claimed multiple lives. Only after five weeks, when the girl emerged from a coma, was the error discovered. The families and the survivor, Whitney, record their experiences in this heavily Christian account. Those seeking a tale of extraordinary emotions to match the extraordinary circumstances will be disappointed: both families are devoutly religious, and their faith is of the sort that does not admit a great range of feelings. Anger and anguish are quickly recast as professions of faith and celebrations of life in Christ. The Van Ryns immediately embrace Whitney and dismiss a reporter's suggestion of lawsuits. Nor are the Ceraks bitter, not even Whitney, who suffers brain damage. As they describe it, the story inspires others to adopt their beliefs. (Because of such conversions, Whitney writes that the five people killed in the crash have given their lives for Christ.) Readers who don't share the authors' faith may feel alienated, however much they admire the fortitude of the families.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
The Van Ryn family -- Don, Susie, Lisa, Kenny, and Mark -- of Grand Rapids, Michigan shares an avid interest in outdoor recreation. Don and Susie, married for thirty years, are leaving their chosen professions to dedicate themselves full time to an outdoor camping experience for youth in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Lisa is pursuing a career in physical therapy, and Kenny lives and works in Southern California. Mark is recently married and resides in the Detroit area.
Despite the sorrow surrounding the passing of their daughter Laura,the family continues to be involved in the work of their local church and community.
The Cerak family -- Newell, Colleen, Carly, Whitney and Sandra Sepulveda -- lives in northern Michigan, where Newell is a youth pastor and Colleen is a PE teacher and coach.
Carly graduated from Taylor University and has lived in Africa for the last six months starting a new ministry to street kids.
Sandra took a year from Grand Valley State University and joined with Invisible Children to bring awareness of the plight of children in Uganda. She is currently back at GVSU finishing her nursing degree.
Whitney is now a junior at Taylor University majoring in psychology. She is confident in God's healing and the revelation of the Holy Spirit in her life.
Mark Tabb has authored and co-authored over twenty books, including Living with Less, the Upside of Downsizing Your Life (B&H), and the 2004 Gold Medallion finalist, Out of the Whirlwind (B&H). He also collaborated with Stephen Baldwin on the New York Times bestseller, The Unusual Suspect (FaithWords). Mark is currently working with Alec Baldwin on his book, A Promise to Ourselves (St. Martin’s Press).
Top Customer Reviews
After a tragic accident on an Indiana highway, two blond girls of similar features were mistaken for one another. Whitney Cerak lived but was comatose, while Laura Van Ryn actually died, but was sent to the hospital to be treated. Misidentification! It was a result coroner's carelessness, and with that, unimaginable consequences upon two families.
The book, written with help of author Mark Tabb, starts with the section about the events of discovery, on the Cerak's part, that their daughter may be alive. Then, the story begins and reveals extensive detail of care by the Van Ryns who believed their daughter was alive, but was hurt badly. This is simple and non-pretentious writing, because it is merely your average God-loving families with deep religious faith.
Connecting with the readers
As you read, you begin to really understand the two families, their feelings, fears, surprises, stamina, hope, faith, etc. And if you are unfamiliar with their dedicated passages, you too, can learn and be inspired. Read Laura's sister Lisa's amazing faithful internet blog for updates and then you have Susie Van Ryn's touching prayer journal. Learn about the emotional passages said during the Cerak funeral.
You will learn the true compassion of strangers, the offering of the Samaritan house to the Van Ryns; the couple who owned the pizza shop and brought so much pizza and bottled water to ICU.Read more ›
Like many readers I was mesmerized by this story, first hearing of it when it happened and then more recently when it received more media attention on Dateline, Oprah, and via People magazine coinciding with the publication of the book. How could this have happened? How did the families react? How is Whitney doing? All these questions were answered by the media yet I wanted to know more and was glad to see the book was available for download on my Kindle. The Van Ryns and Ceraks seem like such nice people who are truly living their faith. Even in their grief how they were able to reach out to one another was really amazing. We should all learn from how they handled this tragic situation. That said, I wanted to know more about Whitney's brain injury itself and other than the first five weeks, the TBI portion was really not covered in very much detail.
These families are the epitome of Christian kindness. In a world where evangelical Christians sometimes have a negative connotation, where they say they pray but their actions seem to be full of hypocrisy, these people really do walk the walk and talk the talk. When I see those buttons that say "WWJD" these are the people who definitely I would think of.
However, although well written, the families use so much praise and prayer in their story that they end up alienating the readers who could really benefit from the message. Another sore spot with me was that they did a lot of bragging about the people that evidently became Christians due to this tragedy.Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
An amazing account-not only of an incredible mistake in identities which meant the life of one daughter for one family, but the death of a daughter for another-but also of how... Read morePublished 18 days ago by cmturmail
Mistaken Identity was one of the best books I have ever read. It holds your interest so well you can hardly put it down. Read morePublished 1 month ago by momma0426
I read this book because it was recommended to me. It was an awesome read, sad yet an amazing story. Read morePublished 2 months ago by janer60
I came across this story on a news posts about how the girl had just spoken at a 10 year event and I had to read the book. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Stacey Henry
Touching story of a tragic event! The faith displayed in these families through their heartbreak will warm any reader's heart.Published 5 months ago by Desiree Pierone
Having to write a review after every book I read is crazy. I would just like to go the home page without be bullied to site a review.Published 5 months ago by Sandra Johnson