Picks and Pans Review: Mistaken Identity

UPDATED 04/07/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 04/07/2008 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Don & Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Colleen & Whitney Cerak with Mark Tabb |

bgwhite bgwhite bgwhite  



The story (PEOPLE, June 19, 2006) is horrifically strange. In April '06 a van accident killed five people from Indiana's Taylor University. Laura Van Ryn, 22, battered and in a coma, survived. For weeks her family kept vigil, praying over her, fixing her hair. Finally, Laura awoke—insisting her name was Whitney. In fact, dental records proved she was Whitney Cerak, 19. Written by both families, this memoir is often frustrating: How did the Van Ryns mistake Whitney for their child, despite eyes that didn't quite look right and a pierced navel? Their realization is excruciating; the Ceraks' reunion with their daughter exhilarating. Back in college, Whitney says she's forever grateful to the Van Ryns, now friends. "Most people would be mad about what happened, but they aren't," she writes. As Laura's sister Lisa puts it, "All those prayers we prayed for Laura, the Lord knew who was really lying in that bed."

Your Reaction

Follow Us

On Newsstands Now

Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Robin Roberts: How Loved Saved Me
  • Emma and Andrew: All About Hollywood's Cutest Couple
  • Prince George! More Yummy Photos

Pick up your copy on newsstands

Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine


From Our Partners

Watch It

Editors' Picks

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters