Breedlove pays tribute to her irrepressible, fun-loving younger brother, Ben Breedlove, who died from a heart condition when he was only 18 years old. Just days before his death, he posted video a video online, “This Is My Story,” which reached millions of viewers around the world with his message of faith.
Ben had only been in the world three months when his parents learned he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that causes dangerous arrhythmias. Eager to do whatever was needed to help Ben, the parents were told, “You can’t fix it.” So they lived with it and did everything they could to give their son a normal life. Though health problems often kept him out of school, Ben readily made friends with his easy smile, sense of humor and caring nature. His greatest pleasure was making videos with his friends, eventually launching an online advice program for teenagers. In writing about her brother, Ally uses a third-person perspective at odds with the personal nature of the story, but she wins readers over with the genuine, heartfelt tone. Ally and Ben’s parents, determined to allow their son to live life as fully as possible, remained vigilant without being overprotective. By the time he was a teenager, Ben’s heart problems had grown increasingly worse. Then, one day at school, he passed out. While the emergency team worked to bring him back from the brink, he experienced a dream or vision. He didn’t know what to call it, but what he saw put him at peace with death. After this traumatic event, he described his experience in his video and posed the question: “Do you believe in angels or God?” He answered, “I do.” These words comforted his family and inspired people of many nationalities and faiths.
Both heartbreaking and uplifting, the book resonates on basic human and spiritual levels.