The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven
First review of 2015—
And I do believe I chose a great book!
The Boy Who Came Back from Heavenby the father-son duo Kevin & Alex Malarkey is exactly the kind of mind frame I needed entering this New Year: why? Because on a personal level I’m feeling lost at the moment…
What this biography (semi-autobiography?) taught me to look at the forest and not just one tree—even if it’s the size of a giant cedar—and that saying is in the book used by the father, Kevin Malarkey.
It’s Christian non-fiction though, and I’m not Christian.
Yet I always felt lighter after reading a chapter or two…
And though I don’t think it’s appropriate to overlook the Christian element—because it’s faith that helped the Malarkeys, still as a non-Christian I know this family’s story continues to touch my memory and heart in a human way.
So this isn’t a review—as how does one review this sort of nonfiction, instead I’ll detail the points I liked the best.
First I enjoyed the set up of the story. Each chapter has two parts: Kevin Malarkey’s account is longer and it starts off the chapter, and the chapter closes with an account from Alex Malarkey. Kevin gives all the details of the accident and Alex gives us some of the goods on Heaven.
And secondly the quotes in the book from others, including Kevin’s father, Dr. William Malarkey—who Alex is the namesake of… There’s also accounts from the Malarkey’s pastor, one of the paramedics who was on the MedFlight rescue team, one of Alex’s younger brothers, Aaron Malarkey, etc. These accounts help flesh out the story and highlight the theme of the importance of community even more.
The only thing I didn’t like about The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven was the vagueness of it… Because it was written mostly by Kevin Malarkey (and understandably because Alex would have required assistance), it felt like too perfectly constructed. And I know coincidences (or fate) can align in the weirdest of ways, but there was a lot of “Come on!” from me.
One scene in particular is the angels that are described by one woman are then supposedly confirmed by another woman who happens to be an artist and who draws the angels over Alex…
Not so believable.
And the book is very much a book that could act as a missionary, or to spread God’s word as Alex wanted (wants?) to be a missionary and his father believes his son’s story is the message from God that should be delivered: making this book have a purpose for its publication—still I think certain parts of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven were…too much.
On a side note, there are also pictures halfway through the read, and I skipped these pictures while I was reading the story for the reason above: I didn’t want to put a face to Alex and his father and mother and the rest of his family just yet. I wanted them to remain faceless, because I felt that seeing their faces while in the midst of reading this small piece of their life story would detract from the words. (And they do say a picture speaks a thousand words…) It felt unfair.
But last night I looked at the pictures…and I started crying. And although Kevin Malarkey has captioned one of the photos with “Please don’t feel bad for us…because we don’t” that I began to understand it wasn’t about the Malarkeys, but rather my own selfish view of the world and my life problems.
This whole book is about trusting (in God, I’ll admit) but in the goodness of others. After an accident like this I noticed that Alex’s parents were so worried about him, particularly his father, who would sometimes reference/redirect his frustration onto the doctors.
In the end I don’t have any regrets reading the Malarkeys’ story.
It was quick. It got to the point. It didn’t yank your chain about the subject matter.