Monday, January 19, 2015

The Boy Who Did NOT Come Back From Heaven

17-year-old Alex Malarkey is one tough kid, and he's been through a lot in his short life.  Alex suffered paralyzing injuries in a car wreck when he was just six years old and lives with the severe consequences of that accident to this day.  

And now, Alex and his mother are trying to correct a mistake in judgement that Alex made about five years ago when he and his family allowed a book about his supposed visit to heaven to be published.  In that book, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, Alex claims to have visited heaven where he saw angels firsthand and even heard the voice of God.  But last Tuesday, in an open letter aimed especially at retailers of religious books, Alex calls himself "the boy who did not come back from heaven" and had this to say:
“Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short. I did not die. I did not go to Heaven. I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.” 
The kid was obviously influenced by someone who saw the chance to profit from the story or, perhaps, to pay off the huge medical costs associated with the aftermath of the car accident.  The book deal was signed only by Kevin Malarkey (the boy's father), and neither Alex nor his mother are parties to that contract.  The Malarkeys have been divorced for approximately three years, and Beth makes it clear that the bulk of the money earned has not gone to Alex directly or toward his continuing care.  

Beth Malarkey is concerned that the book continues to sell well (over a million copies have been sold at last count) and that no one ever questions its validity.  On Saturday (January 15) on her personal blog, "Life's a Journey," she had this to say:
For at least three years, my son Alex Malarkey has been speaking the truth and pleading to be heard regarding The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven. I’m thankful to the Pulpit and Pen blog for posting Alex’s open letter last week and finally helping his voice to be heard. The sudden interest of the media has meant that many reporters are seeking to investigate the story and I would love to answer every question, but since 2006, I have been Alex’s only nonstop caregiver, and I also have three more precious children to care for. So I’m forced to say no to all interview requests. I hope people understand. The facts of the case are being heard, through sources like the Pulpit & Pen website ( and the Grace to You blog (
The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven is, unfortunately, not the only book of this type to rake in bundles of money for its "author" and others associated with marketing such malarkey (pun intended).  There is, for example, the case of the recent movie, Heaven Is for Real, based on a book by yet another child who claims to have spent a few minutes on a personal tour of heaven.  

This kind of thing, when it is marketed as fiction (such as with Mitch Albon's The Five People You Meet in Heaven and For One More Day), can be inspirational to people looking for that kind of positive message.  But publishers and movie studios cross to the wrong side of an ethical line when they represent something like young Malarkey's story as nonfiction - even if they do it as subtly as possible for legal reasons.

To its credit, Tyndale House, the book's publisher is taking The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven and any products associated with it out of print immediately.  Some (such as Alex and his mother), however, might say that it's a little late...

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