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Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 08/2015
  • 9781630474867
  • 198 pages
  • $14.19
Hardcover Book Details
  • 08/2015
  • 9781630474881
  • 198 pages
  • $35.06
Ebook Details
  • 08/2015
  • 9781630474874
  • 148 pages
  • $5.99
Kelsey Butts
Service Provider
Life Is Beautiful: How a Lost Girl Became a True, Confident Child of God

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

Life is Beautiful takes you on a full journey of trauma, loss, and finally resilience. While on a mission’s trip in Guatemala, a small Cessna Caravan’s engine blows while carrying fourteen passengers. Unfortunately, the Cessna crashes in a remote village, leaving eleven of the fourteen passengers dead. One passenger, Sarah, shares her story in Life is Beautiful, about the deaths of her father and brother; her mother’s extreme physical and emotional injuries, and Sarah’s self-discovery to accept this new life.

Life is Beautiful, however, is more than a story about an airplane crash. Life is Beautiful shares the personal struggles of Sarah’s father’s drug use, his recovery, and redemption to be a better person. He gives back by doing missions work in Africa, takes in Sarah’s aunt dying of uterine cancer, and eventually leads their family to the mountains of Guatemala. Sarah also discusses her struggles with alcohol use and depression; where she eventually hits rock bottom. It is not until she starts seeking God through prayer, books, and therapy, where she starts to turn her life around.

Reviews
This debut memoir from Johnson, a marriage and family therapist, recounts the tragedy that tore her family apart and led to her spiritual and emotional turmoil. In August 2008, 19-year-old Johnson was on a volunteer Christian mission in Guatemala with her family. En route to the village where they were to build a school, their plane crashed. Johnson was unharmed, but her father and brother died and her mother spent months in a hospital burn unit. The present-tense narration is a gripping way of describing the incident itself, but it seems less appropriate for flashbacks to her Wisconsin upbringing with a drug-addicted father and her growing alcohol dependence during high school and college. The account of her Aunt Vicki’s slow death from cancer provides a strong counterpoint to her father and brother’s sudden deaths. The book ably recreates conversations with family members, friends, and a therapist, but expository sections mar the quality of the writing. The book begins quickly but never reaches a settled conclusion—especially concerning her mother’s health. Even so, the refrain “Your life was spared for a reason,” and Johnson’s journey out of alcoholism and into Christian faith, are truly inspirational. (BookLife)
Reviewed by Janelle Fila for Readers' Favorite

In Life is Beautiful: How a Lost Girl Became a True, Confident Child of God by Sarah M. Johnson, Sarah is looking forward to her family's trip to Guatemala to reconnect with her family and get away from the troubles in her life. She recently dropped out of school (after not attending most of her classes due to an issue with alcohol and excessive partying) and wanted this trip to be a discovery for her so she could figure out what to do next with her life. She had a sort of boyfriend who she connected with because of his love for God, something that was important to Sarah, but at the same time she (and her family) felt he was a bad influence on her. They encouraged her to end her toxic relationship. All Sarah really had was a strong faith in a higher power, and though she didn't quite understand it or know what she wanted to do with it, she felt connected to God in a way she found hard to describe.

Then a horrendous plane crash landed Sarah in the jungles of Guatemala. Her father and brother died in the crash, along with several of their guides and new friends. Her mother was severely burned and in the hospital for months in an induced coma as she experienced several painful surgeries. At nineteen, Sarah's life was completely turned upside down. She turned to alcohol to help her cope with her loss and subsequent depression.

This story is an excellently written tale about a woman's strength and passion to survive. It starts an open dialogue about depression and alcoholism and what one person did to stop that circle of pain and anger. It is a very inspiring tale and a very interesting read for anyone who has ever experienced loss, been depressed, or turned to an outside source for momentary comfort. Excellent story, very well written, it was a joy to read!

Reviewed by Red City Review

Sarah M. Johnson shares a story of great personal tragedy and personal triumph in her spiritual memoir, Life is Beautiful: How a Lost Girl Became a True, Confident Child of God. It is a powerful and gripping story from the beginning. Yet, after reading the first chapter focused on the plane crash that took the lives of Sarah’s father and brother, the realization comes that the crash really isn’t the beginning of the story. Sarah flips back and forth, especially in the first half of Life is Beautiful, from reflections and descriptions of the plane crash, the deaths and the survivors, to life prior to her family’s trip to Guatemala. Her father had not often been present during the early years of her life. Yet, getting arrested for drugs and then bringing Sarah’s aunt home to die led to his transformation. He no longer wanted to take from others, but instead wanted to give back. This is why Sarah and her family flew to Guatemala. As the story jumps back and forth, you also come to realize that heavy drinking was a part of Sarah’s family culture. It is no surprise that she, too, tried to escape her issues through drinking. Between alcoholism, the tragic loss of her family, and the failure of her first year of college, she comes to realize she has tremendous work to do on herself. Throughout Life is Beautiful, she explores her connection or lack thereof to God. Eventually, she steps fully into her faith and finds herself walking life’s path with God at her side.

Life is Beautiful is very well-written even if the flipping back and forth between time frames is a bit perplexing at first. Sarah M. Johnson has an inspirational story to share with the world, and she has done an eloquent job of doing so. By sharing her story in such an open and honest way, Sarah shows readers they are not alone. She finds that there are others who are willing to be there and help her. Just as Sarah found guidance and help, she inspires others to do the same. Sarah M. Johnson truly expresses the concept that life can be beautiful no matter what has happened in our past.

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 08/2015
  • 9781630474867
  • 198 pages
  • $14.19
Hardcover Book Details
  • 08/2015
  • 9781630474881
  • 198 pages
  • $35.06
Ebook Details
  • 08/2015
  • 9781630474874
  • 148 pages
  • $5.99

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