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Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope

Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope


Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope

ratings:
4.5/5 (23 ratings)
Length:
6 hours
Released:
Apr 1, 2008
ISBN:
9780743577045
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

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, severely injured and comatose, was rushed to the hospital. 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 in mourning and grief, 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. They rejoiced at each tiny advance toward recovery. They celebrated each sign of Laura's healing.

And then the shock! "Okay, Laura, I would like you to write your name for me," the occupationaltherapist said. W-H-I-T-N-E-Y.

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

Released:
Apr 1, 2008
ISBN:
9780743577045
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook


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Reviews

What people think about Mistaken Identity

4.3
23 ratings / 23 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (5/5)
    This true life tale had me mesmerized as I kept imagining the deep emotional trauma that was inflicted upon these families--and admiring the way they handled it with amazing faith and strength. It starts with the Cerak family--who thought their daughter Whitney had died in a tragic highway accident weeks earlier--getting a call in the middle of the night informing them of the unbelieveable news that their daughter is in fact alive. In shock they receive the news that she was mistakenly identified as another passenger in the college van they were travelling in, Laura Van Ryn. As the Van Ryn and Cerak families then go back and tell the story of the weeks leading up to this event transpired I was kept on the edge of my seat with anticipaton, knowing of of the revealation that was to come. I also found the ways the families used their common faith in God to help them through these events extremely inspiring. Amazingly these events did not pull these two families apart, but brought them close together and together they have told a truly unique story which is a fascinating testament of the power of love and faith. I hightly recommend this as a powerful book to read or listen to.
  • (5/5)
    Incredible, unimaginable story of two girls who were involved in a van accident of college students. One family is told their daughter has died in the crash Not wanting the last visual memory of their daughter to be of how she appeared after the crash, someone else identifies her. She has been horribly injured around the face area as well as all over. They plan and carry out her funeral with tremendous support from the college and community. Another family is told their daughter has been horribly injured in the accident. They spend months by her side encouraging her slow, but steady recovery until one day someone notices small things that make them wonder if this is actually their daughter. Upon further examination through dental records, it is learned that this is actually the daughter of the couple who was told their daughter had died. Her family rushes to the hospital. In all this...in today's world where everyones first instict would be to call a lawyer, these strongly christian families pull together to help, console and support each other. They have no animosity, only prayers of support. A true lesson in compassion. Everyone should read this.
  • (5/5)
    Beautiful and heartbreaking story of two amazing families!! Very moving
  • (5/5)
    Such an amazing book! I could not stop listening to it
  • (5/5)
    Incredible, unimaginable story of two girls who were involved in a van accident of college students. One family is told their daughter has died in the crash Not wanting the last visual memory of their daughter to be of how she appeared after the crash, someone else identifies her. She has been horribly injured around the face area as well as all over. They plan and carry out her funeral with tremendous support from the college and community. Another family is told their daughter has been horribly injured in the accident. They spend months by her side encouraging her slow, but steady recovery until one day someone notices small things that make them wonder if this is actually their daughter. Upon further examination through dental records, it is learned that this is actually the daughter of the couple who was told their daughter had died. Her family rushes to the hospital. In all this...in today's world where everyones first instict would be to call a lawyer, these strongly christian families pull together to help, console and support each other. They have no animosity, only prayers of support. A true lesson in compassion. Everyone should read this.
  • (4/5)
    Since this happened locally, it was of great interesting to our book discussion group. It's sad, joyous and an enjoyable read. Lots of emphasis on the power of prayer and of how God worked in the situation, so if that's not your think, you might want to skip it.
  • (4/5)
    This was a tear jerker, because of sadness and hope and joy. I cried for both. It still amazes me how such a mistake can be made. One of my favorite things about this book is how both families worked through each of the changes in their lives with their faith in a loving God. I would recommend this to anyone.
  • (4/5)
    Really enjoyed this. It made me realize a whole other type of book I like.
  • (5/5)
    I love this story! Very inspirational.
  • (3/5)
    This book was definitely worth reading but left me with a strange feeling afterwards. A group of teens are in a serious car accident. One girl survives and ends up in a serious condition in hospital. Another of the girls dies. Somehow there is a mix-up and the wrong family is notified that their daughter is in the hospital. The family with the surviving daughter are notified mistakenly that their daughter has died and start the grieving process.

    This is when the story becomes almost unbelievable....the family that attend the hospital don't realise that it is not their daughter/sister/relative that has survived. They recognise the girl in the hospital as their own family member even though she is not. It is only when the girl is finally able to start communicating that she writes her real name down and the truth is revealed...

    I don't know whether the family just wanted their daughter to be alive so much that they ignored the signs or whether they didn't consider the alternative. Some extended family members did raise concerns and there were signs along the way that this was not their family member but they refused to accept them.

    Both families are Christian and I think this helps them to deal with the situation when the truth is revealed. I just found the whole idea a bit creepy and more like something from a movie than real life. I guess I just found it hard to believe that two people could look so alike that their family members could get them confused even after a car accident. I found it even more odd when looking at the pictures of the two girls they don't look at all alike. It's just terrible for the family that thought they were at the bedside of their daughter when actually she had already died.

    Incredible story, seemingly unbelievable...
  • (3/5)
    How on earth, in this day and age with forensic scientists and DNA and dental records etc, etc, could a situation like this happen? One person gets mistaken for another. That's all I'll say because I don't want to spoil the book for you if you're planning on reading it but I just shake my head.

    The mistake has far-reaching consequences for both families involved and your heart just bleeds for them. Besides the emotional component, I didn't really find the book particularly well-written and they certainly pour on the religious doctrine. I don't mind that usually if it's sincere but when it takes place in a conversation between three people, you can't help but think 'how realistic is this? I don't talk like this!'.
  • (1/5)
    This story was heart-breaking for both the families involved, and people may think I’m a horrible person for saying this - It really could have been told in a newspaper or magazine article. The pages necessary to fill out a book were Christian testimonial.
  • (2/5)
    I could have easily given it a 1 star except for the fact that it was an intriguing story so I decided to give it 2 stars.
    All the Bible talk got me annoyed and as someone else also mentioned, we still do not know how come they did not recognise there own daughter for 5 weeks!

    Another thing I wonder about. How come Whitney has blocked the 5 weeks with the van Ryn's? So her memories after the accident only started when she finally got caught up with her family. That's quite telling. They also did not address that or what this mix up will have done to Whitney's healing process. I think more than 1/3rd if not half is talk about religion.
  • (4/5)
    You probably remember this story from the news: a van carrying a group of students from Taylor University is involved in a horrible crash with five dead. After 5 weeks, it is discovered that there had been an error in identification, and that Laura Van Ryn, whose family had been by her side 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, was actually Whitney Cerak.

    Let that sink in a minute. The Cerak family had buried "Whitney" weeks earlier, and her mother, Colleen, gets a phone call at 2:00 a.m. saying that there is reason to believe her daughter is actually alive.

    Let that sink in a minute.

    Mistaken Identity was co-written by the Ceraks and the Van Ryn families, and it is just an incredible story. Had it not been true and this had been a novel, I'd have thought it implausible.

    All the little questions I had during the intense media coverage of this a couple years ago were answered. Things like, "Okay, so they were both blond and attractive, but they don't look that much alike," and "How could a mother not know her own child?" There were, in fact, little things that in hindsight should have been utter giveaways, but when you don't have any reason to believe that it is not your daughter lying in that bed in a coma, you just accept as fluke-y, and the fact the Van Ryns did so is totally understandable.

    All those details are fascinating -- the fact that Laura's sister thought it odd that none of the clothes she got at the hospital that her sister had been wearing were things she recognized; the difference in the teeth (not noticed for weeks because a respirator was in her mouth, and then dismissed as possibly related to the violence of the wreck knocking things askew); the fact that "Laura" had a pierced belly-button and her sister was sure she'd have told her if she'd done that.

    It is only at the end of the grueling 5 weeks, when "Laura" begins talking that questions arise. The fact that she calls out names the Van Ryns don't recognize is explained away by the nurses as "her neurons are firing, but not firing correctly, so who knows where that name came from?" With no real reason to doubt that "Laura" isn't "Laura," I have a feeling I'd have let it go, too.

    Mistaken Identity truly captures the roller-coaster of emotions of both these families, and what became their tender care of each other when the unimaginable mistake was discovered. What is most amazing is the very obvious comfort the faith of both these families brought them in their most devastating moments.

    While I can't say this book is brilliantly written, it is raw, and it is real, and it is stunning.

  • (4/5)
    I was empowered reading the courage & faith of the two families involved in this tragedy. I loved the way the story was told, the family stayed true to themselves and God.
  • (5/5)
    I have never read a book that evoked such emotions in me. It was a very moving read. Along with the rest of the nation, I followed the events as they unfolded...but this is in depth and very moving on the parts of both families involved. I would recommend this book, but make a suggestion that one should read it in private, it is very emotional.
  • (5/5)
    This book is both sad and joyous. The story itself is quite unbelievable and that's what makes this book a page turner. I couldn't put it down and actually read it from cover to cover in less than 2 days. I felt it was a little too heavy on the Christian aspect however, it's clear that both families have a strong faith which was what got them through the tragedy and it's aftermath.The book was a good and fast read however, I don't think I'll ever fully comprehend how the Van Ryns could spend every single day for 5 straight weeks with Whitney as she recovered thinking she was actually their daughter, Laura. I do see how it may have been difficult to know during the first few days when Whitney was kept in a low-light ICU setting but once she was moved to a regular room I feel like it should have been obvious. Both Whitney and Laura do have striking physical similarities, HOWEVER, I just can't fathom how a mother could NOT know her own child or a sibling could NOT know her own sister. I guess I will never understand that piece of this story.
  • (5/5)
    Top 10 book for me--maybe top 5. I've read it 2 times and listened to the book on tape once. These people are real. They have a Midwestern, could-be-my-neighbor feel about them. What happened to them is so beyond most of our ability to fathom, and their response to it could only be the result of supernatural intervention--that would be God.The story is compelling. It was brilliant to start with the prologue that brings you to the hours leading up to the reunion of Whitney with her own family. This let the reader know that this book was not written for some kind of dramatic effect, but for the telling of a real story. The climax of the book is right at the beginning to allow the rest of the book to be about the details. Identifying Whitney as Laura (rather than the girl we thought was Laura) throughout the first part of the story really allowed the reader to live in the Van Ryans' world as much as possible. This was critical to allowing the reader be a part of the emotional ups and downs in this book.As I read this story, I couldn't help but find myself imagining being in either families shoes(and praying that I wouldn't be). I found myself choked up repeatedly throughout this book and even shaking my head in disbelief even in the face of what I new what was coming. Thank you Ceraks and Van Ryans for being faithful followers of Christ when it mattered and for being willing to share this story. You have somehow managed to convey an exceeding amount of humility and faith through this that can not be faked.
  • (4/5)
    Inspiring. Very religious families. Kristin's pick. Wonderful
  • (4/5)
    Two families struggle with unimaginable circumstances in the aftermath of a fatal crash with only one survivor. This unbelievable case of mistaken identity made nationwide news and shocked the country. But what might be even more shocking is the way these two families deal with this tragic incident. You will need plenty of tissue nearby when you read this extremely emotional story.
  • (5/5)
    Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak: one buried under the wrong name, one in a coma and being cared for by the wrong family.This shocking case of mistaken identity stunned the country and made national news. Would it destroy a family? Shatter their faith? Push two families into bitterness, resentment, and guilt?
  • (4/5)
    Although this story was covered by every news station around the US, it was interesting to read the first-person account told by both sets of parents involved in this story of both tragedy and joy. It was heartwarming to learn of the spiritual strength of all involved. The last portion, told by the surviving daughter, was a poignant reminder that the damage done when tragedy hits becomes even more pervasive if we aren't sensitive to the feelings of those involved.
  • (5/5)
    Excellent book about two families torn apart following a tragic car accident of college students. 1lived the others died. Whitney Cerak was mistaken for Laura Van Ryn . The Ceraks buried what they thought was their daughter Whitney. Laura(Whitney) was badly injured in the accident and had to undergo tremendous hospital care and therapy. During her recovery it became known that Laura was really Whitney. A mistake was made. Very scary and sad. How could this happen? It mentions in the book when told their daughter Whitney was supposedly dead, that her family did not want to see her body, maybe if they did they this would never have happened. Both families had a strong faith and did what was right in the end.