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The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World

The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World

3.5 11
by Alex Malarkey, Kevin Malarkey

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In 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his six-year-old son, Alex, suffered an horrific car accident. The impact from the crash paralyzed Alex—and medically speaking, it was unlikely that he could survive. “I think that Alex has gone to be with Jesus,” a friend told the stricken dad. But two months later, Alex awoke from a coma with an incredible story to


In 2004, Kevin Malarkey and his six-year-old son, Alex, suffered an horrific car accident. The impact from the crash paralyzed Alex—and medically speaking, it was unlikely that he could survive. “I think that Alex has gone to be with Jesus,” a friend told the stricken dad. But two months later, Alex awoke from a coma with an incredible story to share. Of events at the accident scene and in the hospital while he was unconscious. Of the angels who took him through the gates of heaven itself. Of the unearthly music that sounded just terrible to a six-year-old. And most amazing of all . . . of meeting and talking to Jesus. The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven is the New York Times bestselling true story of an ordinary boy’s most extraordinary journey. As you see heaven and earth through Alex’s eyes, you’ll come away with new insights on miracles, life beyond this world, and the power of a father’s love. Tyndale House Publishers

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Tyndale House Publishers
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4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.80(d)

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The boy who came back from heaven

A remarkable account of miracles, angels, and life beyond this world


Copyright © 2010 Kevin Malarkey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-3606-0

Chapter One


The straight, empty road was a deadly optical illusion.

The leaves barely clung to the old oaks lining the highway that cool November morning. As Alex and I drove to church in my old Honda civic, I finally began to relax from the sense of hurry I had felt while getting my oldest son dressed and out the door.

In our family, as in many others, getting organized to go to church involved fighting the forces of chaos. We had already been running late when Alex streaked through the house in his birthday suit to sit and watch a nature show on TV instead of getting dressed, as he had been told to do. No clothes, no breakfast, and, truthfully, no obedience to mommy all added up to strained nerves and short tempers. But much more than this was going on in our family.

Only the day before, our newborn, Ryan, had come home from the hospital. That put the count at four children, ages six and under. Can anyone truly be ready for four young children? It seemed that the best way to preserve some sense of normalcy was for at least two of us to make it to church that day.

Now, glancing into the rearview mirror, I smiled as Alex's eyes danced back at me.

"Hey, buddy, I'm glad you're with me today."

"Me too, Daddy. This is daddy-Alex time, isn't it?"

"That's right, Alex. Just you and me!"

Alex was my buddy. From the beginning, we had done everything and gone everywhere together. Never too far away were several of Alex's "barneys." Some kids have a fuzzy animal. Some kids have a security blanket. Alex had his "barneys"-small cloths he liked to chew on. Six-year-old Alex was my oldest of four-four! What a huge number! Now that was going to take some getting used to.

We drove on in silence. As if involuntarily peering into the future, my eyes fixed on the horizon, on a future that seemed filled with equal measures of richness and, frankly, uncertainty. The full weight of the responsibility of being "Daddy" to four young children pressed against me. The deep breath I unwittingly sucked in burst out in a loud exhale. I couldn't help but think about the medical bills.

We had recently switched medical insurance providers and wouldn't be covered for pregnancy for a few more months. To arrive without insurance coverage didn't make our new little boy any less wonderful, but there was no getting around it-it did make his coming brutally expensive.

Leaves blew across the highway, the evidence of a stiffening breeze. The season was changing. Everything was changing-new home, new church, new baby. Seasons-they are natural and good. We were embarking on a new season in our family-another child. It was natural and good too. Things would work out with the money. They always did. The quick refocus brought a sense of reassurance and helped me savor what had happened just yesterday: my beautiful wife, Beth, and I had filled the hours with multiple turns of holding, touching, and cooing over our newborn.

Alex hadn't wanted to.

"Come here, Alex," I said. "You're his big brother. Come hold baby Ryan."

"Daddy, I don't really want to. Can I just hold the camera? I'm not into holding babies."

I studied my oldest child for a moment and traded glances with Beth.

"Sure, Son; here, you hold the camera."

Who can figure out the mind of a little boy? He'd grow close to baby Ryan in his own time. Why force him?

Pulling into the church parking lot brought me back to the present. Beth and the new baby were now resting at home with Gracie, age two, and Aaron, four, and Alex and I were about to meet some new people. We had only attended this church a few times.

Before I left the car, it struck me in a fresh way how much I really did have to be thankful for, how much I had been blessed, how much I'd been given: we had a new member of our family at the same time we were becoming members of a new church family, having moved to a new home in the country not long before. Even though my psychotherapy private practice had been slow lately, I did have an occupation-unlike many people we knew who were struggling greatly.

But was I truly thankful? Yes, kind of ... in a general sense. The continual pressure of ever-mounting bills has a way of demanding attention, of obscuring all the good things from view, of distorting the beauty that surrounds us and fills our lives. It's like an annoying drip from the faucet that you just can't fix, or in my case, like the piercing screech of a smoke detector, warning of the smaller bills that hadn't been paid and of the mortgage payment that still hadn't been sent ... for the second month. The truth is, the cloud of that financial pressure obscured the beautiful, crisp sunshine of God's truths for me. Even so, it was Sunday, and on Sunday in our family, you go to church.

With Alex off to his class, I took a seat. I smiled politely at everyone who made eye contact as they looked for seats in the auditorium, but my mind was consumed, again, with an image of our bill basket, which seemed to glare at me every time I walked through the front door at home. The singing stopped, and suddenly I was back in the present with Pastor Gary brown opening his bible on the pulpit as he began to speak:

"We have been exploring different aspects of the character of God. God has identified Himself in scripture by using many names. Today we are considering how God has revealed Himself to us relative to our needs: Jehovah-jireh. Ensuring we have what we need is a responsibility that God takes on Himself, a message He gives by His name, which means, literally, 'the lord will provide.' Let's be clear: God didn't say He would provide for all our wants but for things He believes we need. If God has said that our needs are His concern and responsibility, why do we spend so much time being anxious?"

I felt as if there were a bull's-eye painted on my forehead with a large dart sticking into it. The sermon could have ended right there. My burden, so palpable moments before, was replaced by a lightness of spirit I hadn't known all morning. This was only my fifth visit to the church, so there was no way Pastor Brown could have consciously tailored his sermon to my situation. My head fell into my hands, and I had to smile at the timeliness of the rebuke. God is the Provider. He knows what I need. I thought again about our bill basket. First thing I'm doing when I get home is tape a big sign on the front of it: God Will Meet Our Needs.

Following the service, I got into a conversation with the children's pastor. We walked the lawn in the now-pleasant late-autumn air, discussing the vision of the pastor and staff for this church. Alex tried to be patient during this adult conversation. We exchanged glances and smiled at each other, but it was tough for my little guy to endure a conversation that, for him, felt as if it would never end. I leaned down and whispered, "Alex, you're such a good boy. Let's find a park on the way home, okay?"

A big grin signaled his approval.

A few minutes later, Alex and I made our way back to the car, now virtually alone in the parking lot. I buckled him into the backseat, but before getting behind the wheel, I let my eyes wander across the pavement to the front doors of the church building. I had come with anxiety and was leaving with hope. How could I not give thanks?

"Remember, daddy, we have to go to a park!" Alex called as I got in the driver's seat. "You bet, Alex. But you have to help me find one. Keep a sharp eye out your window."

We drove down the road looking for the elusive playground with the intensity of hunters stalking big game.

During the short drive, a cemetery came into view. I had often used the appearance of a cemetery to teach Alex that we each have a spirit. "Hey, look, Alex, a graveyard. What's in there?"

"Just bodies, daddy. Graveyards don't have people, 'cause when they die, their spirits leave their bodies and go to their new home."

"You got it, Son. Now, where's that park?"

Before long, Alex shouted, "Look, there's one. Over there!"

The car had barely stopped before Alex jumped out on a dead run to the ladders, bars, and chutes. It was only a few months back at some burger joint that Alex had lost his nerve on the top of the tube slide. There I was, squeezing my six-foot-two frame through the tunnel-dad to the rescue! Not anymore. Somehow since then, Alex had transformed into the Daredevil Kid. "Alex, be careful," I warned. "You're scaring me. Watch where you're putting your hands and feet."

Beth was usually on hand to keep a lid on things, but with her absent, I suddenly felt Alex was taking way too many risks. I had good reason. Alex was already a two-time veteran visitor to the emergency room. On his last visit, I do have to admit that Alex's timing was good. There I was in emergency, getting Alex stitched up. When the doctor was finished, I passed Alex off to his aunt and hoofed it to the birthing room to be with Beth just before Aaron arrived! The way Alex was swinging, hanging, and balancing now, it was easy to imagine another visit today.

"Daddy, look, no hands!"

"You're a champ, Alex. Now be careful." Where was my timid little Alex?

After about fifteen minutes, I started to get antsy, knowing Beth would be wondering where we were.

"Come on, buddy. We'd better get home. Mommy is already wondering what happened to us."

Between Heaven and Earth

After securing Alex in the seat directly behind mine, I pulled the strap to make sure it was tight. The next challenge was to find our way home through this unfamiliar territory-not that I didn't know how I got to the church, but finding shortcuts and exploring new roads are all part of the fun of living in a new area. I pulled out onto the road, and a short distance ahead, an intersection came into view. I began dialing my cell phone to let Beth know where we were.

"Hey, Alex, I'll bet that road will get us home. Let's take it." Though a rural road, it was bordered by several ranch-style houses with deep front yards.

Ring ... Ring ...

Stopped at the intersection with the phone to my ear, I looked both directions-as always. No oncoming traffic for at least half a mile. What I didn't know was that at this unfamiliar intersection I was not looking down a perfectly straight half-mile stretch of road. Several hundred yards ahead, just before the road curved off to the left, was a huge dip that obscured anything that might have been there. The straight, empty road was a deadly optical illusion.

"Hey, Beth, how's it going? ... Well, I got into a long conversation after the service, and then we found a park, but we're on our way home now. We should be there ..."

"Dad, I'm hungry. When are we going to be home?"

I turned to answer Alex while still on the phone with Beth. I pulled into the intersection and then ...

The deafening crunch of metal ripping metal flashed and then faded into brilliant silence. All was silence.

* * *

As unconsciousness yielded to confused awareness, my mind strove to bring order from chaos. The meager beginning of a thought forced its way into clarity: Why am I lying in a ditch next to my car? My mind raced. What is going on? With the first light of reason flickering in my still foggy mind, I sat up, bewildered. What had happened? Why was I here? Alex-he was with me, wasn't he? Where is Alex? Where is my boy?

I do not know how long I was unconscious, but several people had already run from the nearby homes to the accident site. "Lie still. don't move," someone implored. I couldn't. Every fiber of my heart was screaming, Where is Alex? now that I was on my feet, everything sounded muffled. I was moving in slow motion, as if I were walking on the bottom of a swimming pool. Over and over I yelled, "Alex, Alex, Alex!" no answer. My heart pounded out a rhythm of fear. The silence fell like a hammer but was soon pierced by the wail of sirens.

Just as my mind was being overthrown by fear, a gentle arm wrapped around my shoulder. I turned to look into the kind eyes of a total stranger.

"You've been in a car accident, son. There is a young boy still in the backseat of the car."

Firemen and policemen swarmed everywhere, concentrating on what used to be my car. Before I had a moment's thought about what I might find in the backseat, I ran over and looked. An acrid, evil smell violated my senses. Amidst thousands of glass shards, torn upholstery, and twisted metal, there sat my boy, my firstborn son, on whom his mother and father's dreams rested, still strapped in his seatbelt-still in his church clothes. He's okay, he's okay. He's been knocked unconscious and probably has a concussion, but he's going to be okay. But in that moment of desperation, what I frantically hoped was no match for harsh reality. And as I continued to stare, dread soon overcame my hope. Blood ran from a gash on Alex's forehead. And what was wrong with his head? It hung so unnaturally down to the left, bizarrely lower than it should have been. Vacant, hideously bloodshot eyes stared down.

Alex, my son ... he looks dead! I've killed my son.

An immense wave of incredulity, horror, and crushing grief loomed above me, threatening to swallow me. On the other side of the car, the paramedics worked furiously, trying to remove Alex and get him onto a stretcher, all the while attempting to establish an airway in order to get oxygen into his lungs.

Moments later, a senior medical officer consulting with the policeman who was first on the scene said, "We'll need to contact the coroner's office and cancel MedFlight."

"Yes, sir, but the chopper's already landing."

Panic stabbed my chest and breath came in short gasps as my mind raced uncontrollably through the mayhem: I'm the cause of all this. Have I killed my son? What about the people in the other car? Where did that car come from? Am I going to jail? Is Alex really dead?

*** I heard a mighty crash at the intersection only a few dozen yards from my front door. I had been a fireman and thought I might be able to help, so I sprinted toward the accident scene. When I arrived, Kevin, whom I didn't know at the time, was in a daze. People were urging him to sit down, as he was obviously disoriented. I first went up to the other car, but those people all seemed to be okay. I then went over to Kevin's car and could see that a little boy was in the backseat. I climbed in the back as best I could, but I had no idea if the little boy was dead or alive. I knew enough not to touch his head but placed my hand over his chest. There was no perceptible breathing. I'm a man of faith, so I started praying for this little guy. I also talked to him as if he could hear me, although there was no response. I said, "Hey, little guy, don't worry." And I kept praying.

"You're going to be all right."

And I kept praying.

"Don't be afraid. You just hang in there."

And I kept praying.

"You're going to make it, buddy. Help is on the way."

I didn't have any indication that Alex was alive, but I kept praying for him and his dad. Dan Tullis ***

As bystanders gathered around the organized confusion of the rescue effort, shame poured over me-the father who had caused destruction in so many lives. Were all these people secretly condemning me? They were too late. Condemnation had already invaded the very recesses of my heart. Oh God, what have I done?

Fear coursed through my body like an electrical surge. Utterly bewildered as to what to do, I turned when a hand on my right shoulder interrupted my thoughts.


Excerpted from The boy who came back from heaven by KEVIN MALARKEY ALEX MALARKEY Copyright © 2010 by Kevin Malarkey. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Kevin Malarkey is a Christian therapist with a counseling practice near Columbus, Ohio. He is a graduate of the College of Wooster and Ohio State University, where he earned his graduate degree. He and his wife have four children and attend a nondenominational evangelical church.

Alex Malarkey (11) is the youngest person in the world to have the Christopher Reeves surgery allowing him to breathe without a respirator. He can stand in a supportive frame for an hour at a time and, with the help of a special harness, can walk on a treadmill while helpers move his legs. He believes that he will walk on his own again.

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Boy Who Came Back from Heaven: A Remarkable Account of Miracles, Angels, and Life beyond This World 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
jmcgarry More than 1 year ago
Alex Malarkey, the little boy that was in the accident, admitted that he made the whole story up. Tyndale has announced that they will stop selling the book. Sad, really. Alex said he just did it for the attention. Because of this, I have lowered my rating from 4 stars to 2. It may be a good fictional story, but it needed to be labeled as such.
kristen4mk More than 1 year ago
This was a tough one for me. I wanted to buy in...but had a hard time fully doing so, as I believe that some of what is presented here conflicts with what I read in the Bible. Heaven doctrine or your personal beliefs aside, it was certainly (on the surface) an inspiring story about a father and son who are in a terrible car accident. The six year old son, Alex, is in a coma for two months. When he "wakes up" he tells of going to heaven and back to earth numerous times, and what he expeirenced while there. The book is written "tag team" style - the father Kevin is the primary "voice" with Alex weighing in on what heaven is like at the end of each chapter. There are also testimonials from people who were either at the scene or were involved in praying for Alex throughout this journey that are sprinkled throughout each chapter. If I could suspend some belief for a bit about certain topics, if I just took it at face value - the stories of how the family's financial and physical needs are met in incredible ways is certainly inspiring. I was sad to hear that the parents are now divorced. And, to be presented as fact (especially as the person in question, Alex, who supposedly experienced all that's written and now at 16 is saying he doesn't agree with what his father has written and had nothing to do with it) is much more difficult. I can't recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is bogus. Alex had nothing to do with writing this book and his dad is making a fortune off it. Alex gets no revenue from this book. Alex remains a quadraplegic vent dependent. Kevin does not even acknowledge his son or wife. This is pure fraud put to pen by a dad trying to rid guilt of causing his son this pain and suffering. If you buy the book you are contributing to his wealth and not one penny to Alex. Google "MOMONAMISSION" and read the real story by his mother.
Reli0 More than 1 year ago
I can tend to be a little skeptical of otherworldly experiences, but when I hear it from the words of a child, I am much more open to the idea.  A child is not going to be capable of making up these kinds of images and keeping his story straight for month after month after month.  This story was impressive to me--probably more so because Alex wasn't miraculously healed of his paralysis and while his family continues to believe he will be fully healed in this life, they have learned to adapt and adjust to the circumstances they are in.  It is impressive the courage exhibited by Alex through the whole journey.  While the writing style isn't top notch in my opinion, the story is defintely amazing.  May God receive the glory through it all.  
J4Life5 More than 1 year ago
I found this book fascinating. Obviously the description of how the accident happened and the extent of the injuries to Alex was horrific and very difficult to read, but the rest of it was completely captivating. There are many lessons to be learned from this book. First of all, life can change in a heartbeat. One minute Kevin and Alex were heading home from church and the next, they were separated - one in a helicopter and the other in an ambulance. However, the most important is the belief in the power of prayer. I loved reading about the prayer warriors and the results of their prayers. It was chilling reading about the lies Alex encountered and the battles he endured. It is amazing for a child to experience what Alex has and have the ability to communicate it to others. I can always tell it is a good non-fiction book when I look at the photographs included in it and I get teary. I kept referring back to the photos time and again because it made the story that much more real to me. I also appreciated the honesty Kevin shared about the effect the accident had on the Malarkey marriage. I think it is something that couples coping in similar circumstances can identify with and find encouraging. This is a great book, and one of the best I've read with this similar topic. I can't recommend it highly enough.
BeachNana8 More than 1 year ago
This book is an incredible story showing God’s power and love about a boy in a horrible car accident that left him almost dead. In fact, when the paramedics in the helicopter arrived, they thought he’d probably die before reaching the hospital. However, both the nurse and the paramedic were Christians and prayed that Jesus would heal Alex. Alex himself told his father later that both father and son died and went to Heaven where God healed his father immediately, but told Alex that He God would use Alex to bring more glory to God. Alex’s incredible injuries should have caused his death. But God enabled Alex to survive one obstacle after another caused by those injuries even as God also provided for the family’s needs through their church and many others who generously gave to help them.
JeanieMNJL More than 1 year ago
A true story about the supportive nature of a community. An intersection in my neighborhood has a curve and dip that leaves a blind spot. As a newcomer I went through the intersection and was startled when a car appeared, brakes screeching, then made a U turn. Now I always wait an extra moment before crossing there. This book carries a powerful message.
SophiesMindset More than 1 year ago
A story of God's faithfulness and provision With a title like "A boy who came back from heaven" I expected something like "Heaven was really cool." "The streets were gold." "I got to talk to Moses - he was really old." Standard, hokey, fake. In other words, I went in entirely skeptical. And, let's face it, the authors having the last name of Malarkey didn't bolster confidence. Sorry. I believe in Jesus and the Bible 100%. I also know that near death, out of body, and resurrection experiences sometimes do happen. In those cases, though, the burden of proof is entirely on the person. I don't go in expecting to believe them. Instead of the story I expected to read, I found that the focus of the book actually wasn't the heaven experience (a relief), but instead an account of God's faithfulness to the Malarkey family.  I read the book waiting to pounce on any statement that contradicted Scripture - the ultimate litmus test. What I found was that while I might have phrased a few things differently, there was nothing that jumped off the page screaming that it contradicted God's word.  Two things that impressed me most with this story as it relates to Alex (the boy who came back from heaven) are 1) he remains silent on many things that he saw or gained knowledge of while in heaven - because God told him not to tell. This is very consistent with the Bible.  2) Alex doesn't want the story to be about him, he wants people's focus to be on God. He says that he isn't a special Christian because of what happened, he just had a special experience. Alex's father also notes that Alex gets very uncomfortable when people make the story about him, and ignore God. Alex always redirects to God. Again, this is very Biblical - the Spirit always draws attention to Jesus, not to self.  These two things, are huge points in favor of an accurate story. Another point in that favor is that Alex was six when all of this happened - according to his parents and friends, his story has never wavered. As he relearned how to talk, a few details were added in, but the substance of the story never wavered. If he was making all of this up, he would've been sure to start contradicting himself. Also, some of what he talks about he had to way of knowing because he was dead/in a coma. Yet he relayed that information accurately. Some people have said that Kevin (the father, and the book's main author) complains too much about finances in the book. Those people miss the points that Kevin is making - whenever he mentions money it is to praise the Lord for his provision.  Kevin also doesn't try to sugar coat the shortcomings of him and his family. This also provides another ring of truth to the story - if he said that there were never any times of short tempers or bumpy roads I wouldn't believe him. That's not how life works.  Some have also criticized the parts of the story in Alex's words saying that the vocabulary isn't that of a six year old. That's true, it's not, but is consistent with the vocabulary of a twelve year old (his age when this book was published).  I think that this book can serve as an illustration of God's provision and faithfulness, but no one should ever let it stand above the Bible. Kevin Malarkey even makes that point in the book - that everything Alex portrays is and should be compared against Scripture. They haven't found where his story doesn't meet that test. In fact, the older Alex grows and the more he learns about the Bible, the most excited he gets. He loves finding out that something he saw is mentioned in the Bible.  Do I recommend this book for others? Yes, I do. I didn't expect to when I started reading it. But only with the qualifier that this work should never take the place of the Bible - either in your life or in your outreach to others. The Malarkey's cannot save anyone. Jesus can.
rlighthouse More than 1 year ago
Miracles do Happen This book is the inspirational story of Kevin and Alex Malarkey and their journey of healing after a terrible accident. The father and son were on their way home from Church when they were in a vehicle accident and Alex was not expected to live.  What happened in the upcoming hours, days, weeks, months and even years is a remarkable story of faith, a peek at heaven and angels and the wonderful outpouring of support from the community and even the world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not sure what it was about this book that I felt it was more credible than the other "heaven book" from here recently that is also has a yellow cover. As I really wanted to believe both of them, but I had a really hard time with the other one, while this one even though the dad is again the author and isn’t a pastor, felt different. Not that this by any means is a replacement for what the Bible states about heaven, but it was sad, it was entertaining and really showed faith in times of trouble.
KMarkovich More than 1 year ago
An amazing story of a six year old who not only survived a deadly automobile accident but also recovered to tell his story of going to heaven. On a bright November Sunday afternoon in 2004 (just 2 days after the birth of his 4 child) Kevin Malarkey drove his car into a blind intersection and was plowed into by another car. Witnesses and emergency personnel did not think little Alex would make it. Yet through prayer and God’s miracles, he did. After 2 months in a coma, Alex was able to tell of the accident without any knowledge of the events. He also told of visiting God and how the angels were with him. Powerful book!