Book Reviews of Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope

Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope
Mistaken Identity Two Families One Survivor Unwavering Hope
Author: Colleen Cerak, Whitney Cerak, Don Van Ryn, Susie Van Ryn, Newell Cerak
ISBN-13: 9781416567356
ISBN-10: 1416567356
Publication Date: 3/25/2008
Pages: 275
Rating:
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 168

4 stars, based on 168 ratings
Publisher: Howard Books
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

36 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 224 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Unbelievable true story of 2 young women who were misidentified after a horrible car accident. One was killed, the other seriously injured. The mix up is not discoved until much later, after one has been burried & another family has kept a constant vigile praying for their daughter to wake up. Easy reading. Read it very quickly.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on
Helpful Score: 4
I wanted to see the Prime Time Edition Special about this, but unfortunately I had other plans that night. Anyway, I thought that this book was hearbreaking, insightful and just a good read. I suppose that sounds strange considering the circumstances, but there is still a lot of hope in this fine book. I would suggest that anybody who has had had some kind of pain in their life should read this.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 34 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
My brother-in-law is a senior at Taylor University and knew all of the victims of this horrible tragedy. That said, this book is a very poignant look at an identity mix-up that had jarring consequences for each family involved. It's a rather short read, especially if you know all of the details, but offers insight that the television crews and cameras failed to capture.

Even questions that most people have asked about this story since it broke: "TWO families didn't know the identity of their own daughters?!" and "One girl had a belly-button ring and the other had a different eye color; they didn't even look alike. How could this have happened?" and "Was the Van Ryn family in denial about the true identity of the girl they were taking care, even after the hints Cerak gave, because they didn't want to face the knowledge their own daughter had died?" are mostly answered in this book. Some of the answers given by both families seem a bit naive at times, but ultimately come off as believable.

Overall, I recommend this book to anyone looking for a good, true story. While God is mentioned and both families are Christian, the book appeals to those beyond a religious audience. I highly recommend this.

(On a sidenote: I know that the two families are devout Christians, and though I know it is none of my business, I am wondering if they are all profiting from the book and media attention? As a Christian, I can't imagine profiting from such a tragedy, unless to cover medical care. Nonetheless, it's still a great read.)
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 107 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
WOW! This book was amazing! I remember following this story as it was happening and was appalled by the turn of events in these two families lives. This book is a must read. The reader really gets to know these two families and the horrific experiences that they lived through. Highly recommended.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 270 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
I read this book a few days ago and just am now getting ready to post my review-it has stuck with me and I just can't get over what these two families went through (as well as the whole town). It is amazing that the Van Ryn's can forgive the hospital for mistaking Whitney for their daughter. It is also neat that the two families remain friends after what happened. Also includes several pages of pictures of both families and of Whitney in the hospital. Highly recommended but have tissues ready!!
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Good book; especially for being true. A little hard to keep the families straight if you didn't know the back story prior to reading.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 77 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I remember hearing about this story on the news and then seeing the two families on Oprah. It is a really crazy story. How does something like that happen?

This book is written by the two families together and they flip-flop between the two families to show you what was going on in each of their lives as story unfolds.

I listened to this one on audiobook and I found myself driving with tears in my eyes several times throughout the story.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I could not put this one down. It is a heartbreaking story with a beautiful message about God's ability to bring you through the rain
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 98 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This was an interesting story and rather scary when you think about it. That being said, I found it to be rather confusing,trying to keep track of who was who.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo.com

Everyone saw the news splashed across the headlines or on the evening news reports. The wrong family was sitting beside a recovering girl in the hospital. How could it have happened? Read MISTAKEN IDENTITY to get the inside account from the two families that were involved in the unbelievable story.

The story seems straight out of the movies, almost too hard to fathom. But the Van Ryn and Cerak families, aided by Mark Tabb, tell the story of how Whitney and Laura were misidentified and two families dealt with both joy and sorrow with the help of their unerring faith in God.

Laura and Whitney were both students at Taylor University, a Christian college in Indiana. There were both in a school van on their way back to campus from a banquet with a few other people. A tractor trailer crossed the median and hit the side of the van, plowing it onto the side of the road. "Laura" was thrown 50-feet from the van. When rescue workers found her, a purse and ID nearby said that it was Laura Van Ryn. The photo on the ID looked enough like her. Thus began a five-week trial for both families.

The Cerak family received a call that Whitney had died in the accident. An employee from the university had identified her for the family. Colleen couldn't bring herself to look at the empty shell of what was left of Whitney, knowing in her heart that the true spirit of Whitney was now standing before God. Had Colleen gone and identified the body, would the error have been caught on the first night? No one knows.

The entire story is a bunch of "what ifs" by both families. Little things during "Laura's" recovery made family and friends question and wonder when "Laura" would return to her full self. But with the doctors and therapists constantly telling the Van Ryns that the neurons are firing but not necessarily connecting properly yet, no one gave it a serious second thought.

Only after "Laura" starts to come out of her coma and respond to therapy do the questions truly get raised. When a therapist asks "Laura" to write her name -- out came "W-H-I-T-N-E-Y." In the next few days, the pieces all come together, and a forensic dentist verifies the worst news for the Van Ryn family: this is not Laura after all.

What should be a story of loss for the Van Ryn family is a story of unerring faith. They are truly grateful for the time they spent with Whitney in the hospital. They are happy for the Ceraks' miracle and do not blame God.

The Cerak family went through grief but knew that Whitney had lived in God's love and was in a better place. They had sorrow, but knew that they would all see Whitney sometime in the future. When the call came that she may still be alive, Carly, Whitney's sister, would not believe it. Not until she saw with her own eyes did she believe the miracle that Whitney was still alive.

The story is so uplifting in the true belief both families have in God, that even in the time of sorrow they both experienced, the reader never once felt truly sad. The Van Ryn and Cerak families are both truly exceptional families. They are unwavering in their faith and love in God. They are both wonderful examples of a life lived to the fullest.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 336 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is the unbelievable story of two young women who were "mixed up" after a van accident on the way back to college after a college activity. Both familes are devout Christians and I was a little nervous that the religious aspect of the book would be over bearing for me. I have my own religious beliefs and don't like anyone pushing theirs on me. This didn't do that at all. I would have prefered slightly less talk about God myself but it still didn't take away from the book for me.
I would recommend to anyone who likes touching non-fiction.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on
Helpful Score: 1
Learning about the girls' lives and how they touched people around them was amazing. Both families experienced so much heartache, but the Lord used the situation to bring people to Him. What an amazing blessing!
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is a very moving story. These families were brought together by a bond of love.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Fascinating story and well told. I loved this book. I remember well when it happened and it was shocking, but what made this such a gripping story to read was learning about the encompassing story of love for God that was already a part of both families lives and truely carried them through the tragedy of the accident and the losses and struggles afterward.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 13 more book reviews
It's amazing what these two families went through. Yet they never lost their faith in God and have chosen to share their stories. I highly recommend it; just be sure to have a box of tissues ready!
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 2 more book reviews
Very sweet Christian testimony of two families going through hope, suffering, and loss. I cried a lot when I read this book.
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great book. They are all amazing people who relied on ther faith to get them thrugh this ordeal
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 11 more book reviews
Was an amazing story of love, faith and strength, a real tear jerker.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 77 more book reviews
Very compelling TRUE story of 2 young women getting unbelievably mixed up in a tragic accident. One lives, one dies, one set of parents think their daughter lived only to find out she isn't who they think she is.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on
A powerful story of two families, and their faith in God that pulled them through the tragedy. A very quick read, but very worth reading, whether you like to read true stories, or just like to see how God works through the lives of others, and pulls us through our problems and tragedies.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on
I loved this book. What a faith building story. Many people I talked to thought the book would be depressing but it wasn't at all. It showed faith in Chirst even at the worst of times.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 81 more book reviews
This was a good read and have tissues ready when you start to read it because I cried all the way thru. It was both a happy and a sad book for both families involved
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 3 more book reviews
Excellent book. A fast read... It's a true story so it grabs you right away. It's a very God honoring, Gospel centered book. I loved it!! I am sad for the families who lost loved ones..
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on
Very intense story. The book pushed religious views too much for my liking. Also the story could have been summarized in shorter version. Seemed to go on forever. I was not impressed with the way the book read, but the story itself is overwhelming.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 81 more book reviews
Outstanding. A touching story. A true testament of faith and spirit. I could not stop reading it, even though it was way past my "bedtime," and finished it in one day.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 52 more book reviews
Excellant book based on a true story. A great Christian Read.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on
Only read this book if you are ready to cry buckets! I started reading (and crying over) this book while still in Borders. I bought it because I had to finish it.

I loved this book because most of all, it offered hope. These two families have been through an unspeakable tragedy with their faith intact and strengthened. It puts trials of all sizes in perspective "if they can go through this, then I know that by God's grace I can make it through ______"
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on
The story line is very fascinating. Heartbreaking story. Very religous core.
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A very emotional and inspiring read, although there were times I was sidetracked by the religious references. I understand that both families used their faith to get them through this devastating time, but I didn't realize that was going to be the basis of the story when I started.

That said, though, this is a really good story. I recommend reading it along with Jacquelyn Mitchard's ALL WE KNOW OF HEAVEN, which, although not drawn specifically from this story, shares several similarities and is a wonderful book.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 13 more book reviews
A good interesting story, but too God-intense for my taste.
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A strong Christian testimony by two families which had their children mixed up during a car accident. This story was twisted some in the news when it happened - but this is a thorough exploration of how these people found the strength to deal with first thinking their daughter survived, then discovering she was a fatality in the accident (and vice versa).

I see some reviews which take exception with the Christian beliefs of each family forming a large part of the book. One even said they were hoping to 'know more about the family instead of just religious stuff' - well I think the book tells us that is specifically what the families were about. Personal beliefs about God and religion fall in a wide range from heartfelt, to somewhere in the general middle, to somewhat shallow, to questioning, to nonexistent. As I read I heard these family members telling their readers how their faith bolstered their ability to accept and cope with this awful situation. May not be everyone's choice on how to handle death, injury, and shock, but it was theirs. Naturally that is what they have to write about.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 161 more book reviews
Heart wrenching. Unbelievable that this could happen today. Good one to read and pass on.
reviewed Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope on + 10 more book reviews
Great book!
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It's an interesting and sad story, but I just keep with it. It bored me.
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Amazing Story!!!
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In April 2006 the Cerak family got note that their daughter Whitney was killed in a terrible car accident.
Meanwhile in the hospital the only survivor, Laura Van Ryn, has to recover from her injuries and a damage to the brain.
While the family Cerak took care of Whitney's burial and learnt how to live without their daughter, the Van Ryn family didn't leave Laura's bedside and watched over her slow recovery.
It takes five weeks for Whitney to voice that the Van Ryns' are not their parents.
The Cerak family learns that their daughter is alive and the Van Ryn family has to learn that their daughter died five weeks ago.

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Maybe I am the exception but I thought the book was terrible and found myself skipping whole chapters, especially those where again and again the talk was about God. For someone who does not consider herself a Christian the whole Bla is difficult to stand, too much bore and alienating. I skipped almost all of the printed blog entries about the praising overdose.
I wanted to learn about the families, not God. About emotions and the difficulties they were going through. Instead I found their life wrapped in a bubble about God. It certainly would have been nice to have known that up front. I wouldn't have read the book then.
Of course what the families went through is terrible and saddening, there is no doubt in that but a more down to earth perspective would have helped the whole story.

In the end I should have known because just a few months and way before the paperback was released the book lay on B&N bargain table for a few bucks.