Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope

Newell Cerak, Author, Don Van Ryn, Author, Susie Van Ryn, Author Howard Books $21.99 (275p) ISBN 978-1-4165-6735-6
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.
Reviewed on: 03/24/2008
Release date: 03/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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