Mistaken Identity

51fxmxrs3bl by Don & Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Colleen, & Witney Clerak with Mark Tabb

Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope

A grief reversed. A hope deferred. The stunning true story of two families trading places from graveside to bedside.

Five lives were lost in a tragic accident involving a Taylor University van, and one young woman, severly injured and comatose, was rushed to the hospital.

Five funerals were held. Families, faculty, students, and communities grieved their losses and joined in prayer and hope as the one young woman, Laura Van Ryn, fought for her life in a hospital bed. The national news spread the story, and people everywhere shared the grief and the hope.

Five weeks passed for the Cerak family. Believing they had buried their daughter, the ceraks clung to their faith and worshipped God through their tears, learning to look forward with hope to an eternal reunion with their lovely daughter Whitney. They spent weeks of mourning and grief surrounded by loved ones, slowly moving toward healing.

Five weeks passed for the Van Ryns. Keeping a constant bedside vigil over their precious daughter Laura, they sat and prayed and hoped. Confronted with tubes and surgeries, vital signs and healing signs, they rejoiced at each tiny advance toward recovery. Their friends and church and family members, along with a steady stream of students, celebrated with them each sign of Laura’s healing.

And then the shock!

“Okay, Laura, I would like you to write your name for me,” the occupational therapist said.


An event that could be seen as pure tragedy becomes a celebration of life’s unfathomable gifts and mysteries.


Kristy’s Comments:

I read this book in about 2 1/2 days and bawled like a baby throughout most of it. It is captivating and a quick read. You will be inspired and your faith will be strengthened as you are drawn in emotionally and mentally into the story of these two families.


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