Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
Mistaken Identity; two families, one survivor, unwavering hope written by Don and Susie VanRyn and Newell, Colleen & Whitney Cerak with Mark Tabb, is the true story about Laura VanRyn of Grand Rapids, Michigan and Whitney Cerak of Gaylord, Michigan, two young college students who attended Taylor University in Indiana. Their story is both tragic and redemptive. On April 26, 2006, Whitney and Laura were traveling, along with other students and staff in two university vans, back to campus after working at a banquet when, suddently, one of the vans was struck by a semitrailor that crossed over the center median of I-69 near the Marion, Indiana, exit. "The van was carrying five students and four food services employees. Of the nine people in the van, five had died." Laura was taken to Parkview Hospital in Ft. Wayne, Indiana...unconscious, in critical condition, broken bones and a very serious head injury. Unfortunately, Whitney was pronounced dead.
The events following this tragic day for the Cerak family and the VanRyn family are tremendous loss and eventual triumph. It is emotional, tender, loving, prayerful, but most of all, overflowing with their unwavering faith and strength in Jesus Christ. The book is well written; it takes the reader on a chronologically documented reality of their circumstances and the struggles faced by the victims' families, friends, communities, university, and medical personnel.
Perhaps you remember the national media events of this story: after five weeks of hospitalization and therapy it was discovered that Laura was the student who died in the accident and Whitney is the student who survived, a consequence of mistaken identity. The powerful ordeal of faith and forgiveness is highly recommended not only because of its geographic proximity to Kalamazoo, but also because of the tremendous love, inspiration and respect gleaned for the VanRyn and Cerak families.