Blogger’s note: This review published in 2011. In January 2015, Alex Malarkey recanted his story and the book was pulled from shelves. You can read more about that here. I’m leaving the review up despite my initial skepticism and the recall of the book.
Kevin Malarkey, with the help of his son Alex, wrote a book. It’s the story of Alex’s time in heaven and some of the revelations he was given by God Himself after Kevin and Alex were in a horrific car accident.
I will admit: I was skeptical. I often am of near-death experience stories and accounts by those who have seen the unseen. That their family name is Malarkey did not help my skepticism.
It’s arrogance, really, and pride, for me to be skeptical of their experience. I was caught up in their faith as I read, challenged in my own walk with the Lord, and humbled by circumstances I think are insurmountable or overwhelming. This family is an inspiration, and it’s not because they walked through this trial perfectly without fear or doubt but because they chose to believe God even when the odds, the doctors and the facts offered them little to no hope.
The Malarkeys are honest about their struggles and weaknesses. Alex, who was 6 at the time of the accident in 2004, was even reluctant to write the book because he didn’t want people to exalt him above God. Theirs is a story of hope and encouragement. And while they have a remarkable story of Alex being in heaven, talking with God and having the ability to see angels, they don’t expect you to take only their word for it. The Bible is their source of truth, not Alex’s experience, and everything he tells them, they filter through Scripture.
His story is not the only one of its kind. I’ve read 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper. I have not read Heaven is For Real by the Burpo family.
It’s easy to dismiss stories such as these as incredible. It’s much harder to accept that God is making Himself known to people in a variety of ways, for His purpose, even in ways that seem unbelievable.
Matters of faith are not always black and white, scientific or tangible; that doesn’t mean they don’t matter.
The Malarkeys’ story is fantastic. When you think about it, so are the stories in the Bible. Skeptics of the Christian faith may not be changed by reading this book, but Christians can be encouraged by it.