Stephen Lives by Anne Puryear

Stephen Lives

(No Series)


A spiritual counselor and lecturer shares the incredibly moving story of her 15-year-old son's suicide and her subsequent communication with him. "Stephen Lives!" is a journey of faith and hope, revealing universal truths of life, death, and afterlife that will comfort and inspire. photo insert.

 My good friend Susan loaned me this book after a lengthy phone conversation about death and questions. It was triggered because of the death of a good friend of mine late last year in November, John Gugie, may he rest in peace. She is into some new-age type stuff and recommended this book. It's been years since she read it but she remembered it being interesting, even if a bit far out. Since I'd never read this kind of book before really, I figured, why not? Give it a shot.

I was surprised how it turned out - it was in between a three or four rating, wasn't sure what to give it at first. Most of the book carried an interesting, tragic, and depressing story that was easy to follow and keep reading. It carried important messages about life, raising children, and reaching out to them. Most of the book read like an autobiography of sorts, being a backstory of the mother as the author raised her two sons and two adopted daughters. She went from one man/marriage to the next with various degrees of broken homes, always searching for different spiritual teachings.

What happens to Stephen is heartbreakingly sad. A good book that won't be forgotten because of it's theme certainly - when teenagers die so young, it's always sobering, but even more so when they take their own lives.

One thing that stood out that the author did not talk about physical abuse with Richard, her ex, in the book. She said he was amazingly controlling, verbally abusive, and rigid. He put the kids down often and they fought daily. One of the saddest and most honest parts of the book to me was the last letter at the very end from his older brother Bobby. His regrets at not being kinder to his brother, not being able to save him, and he detailed how bad physical abuse was also, which was not mentioned in the story. I think the author may have thought it would look too bad on her to include that when telling the story for staying in that situation too long, I'm not sure.

The new age stuff  started toward the end and I couldn't get into much of it, it seemed too far-fetched to me. The book has many pictures in it which, after reading about Stephen, caused a blurry eye when looking at him dressed up at various ages. It also includes scans of the notebook where he drew goodbyes, letters, poem pieces, and drawings  before killing himself.