Gwendolyn Reasoner, PhD
National Award Winning Author, “Where Did the Day Go?”
---“Absorbing, inspiring, and tragic Mark Wayne Allen’s new book release “3 Lifetimes In 1” the story of his life in despair, is courageously told and very focused with genuine emotion, capturing the attention of the reader throughout the entire book. A vivid memoir with great clarity and detail, tells an unforgettable survival story.”
Mark Wayne Allen of Merryville has lived life as a quadriplegic for over 30 years, since 1982.
In 1978, when he was 12, his life was forever altered by a car accident. A pickup truck forced the car he was riding in to leave the road. Allen was thrown from the car as it rolled, hitting the back of his head on a rock.
The family’s car, a Ford LTD Landau, then landed on top of him. He ended up with severe burns over much of his body and underwent over 20 surgeries as he recovered from the wreck.
During his many months in recovery in a hospital, he underwent painful whirlpool baths to cleanse his burned tissue, followed by painful skin grafting procedures. The carefree, physically active life he led before the accident had come to a halt.
Understandably, this horrific accident left the young Allen with many physical and emotional scars, in spite of his being surrounded by a loving, supportive family.
Because of the emotional trauma that continued to haunt him after the accident, Allen tried to take his own life by shooting himself in the head at the age of 16.
His sister-in-law found him soon after, though, and Allen’s life was spared — taking another twisting turn as he adjusted to life in a wheelchair.
His book, “3 Lifetimes in 1: A True Story About Change and Redemption,” tells the whole story of Allen’s life thus far.
In the book, Allen describes his “first” lifetime — his idyllic childhood up to the time of the accident.
His “second” lifetime was the four-year span from after the car accident to his suicide attempt.
His “third” lifetime is the time since then until now.
Allen’s book is written in a folksy, informal style. Reading it is like sitting down at the kitchen table listening to a friend who is opening up and telling you the story of this life over a cup of coffee.
There are many asides in the story. Just like in a conversation with a friend, Allen goes off on a tangent and talks about something unrelated to a point he is making, but it adds to the understanding of him and his life’s journey. These “extra” stories are enclosed in boxes throughout the book.
The book deals with some heavy topics, but Allen covers them openly and honestly, with courage and often with a touch of humor.
It is fair to say he has gone through more pain and suffering than most people, but Allen comes across as not only a survivor, but a thriver ?— and as a man who has come to put his trust in God.
Allen lives in Merryville with his wife, Kelley, where he serves as a town alderman and mayor pro-tem. “3 Lifetimes in 1”is his second book.
You gave us a glimpse into your world of why you are now in a wheelchair for life. You chose to go ahead and tell the truth in order to perhaps help others get past those dreadful seasons of coping with all of those hidden emotions. You revealed your hidden thoughts regarding the car accident, the burn treatments, your complete dependency on others and your brain injury therapy sessions, good and bad. You triumphed through all the obstacles, even though it was not easy to do so. This is your story of victory that I pray will motivate and encourage others.
As the pages turned, I grew to admire your family, their faith, your fun times together and the vast things that were done to keep you motivated. As you said, even they did not really understand how deep the car accident had effected you, not even you until much later. Your story is proof that life is not over for the quadriplegic, it is a new season to adjust to and keeping moving forward.
Writers' Guild of Acadiana