| | |

On the Other Side of Tragedy; Life Is Beautiful {Book Review}

There are things in this world we will never understand. There is tragedy so painful and so seemingly senseless, we wonder

Where is God in all of this?

On the Other Side of Tragedy - A Book Review for Life is Beautiful

It is a question we have all asked and likely one to which we have all tried finding answers.

I can’t say I know God’s answers exactly. I could give you a list of theological reason as to why there is tragedy, pain and suffering in our world, but that’s not for this space and this time.

What I do know, is every time I see tremendous beauty in another human being, behind it lies the ashes from their pain. Together those chapters of heartache construct a beautiful story overflowing with strength, dignity, and ultimately victory. A victory they found because they held on tightly to hope. God’s hope.

[bctt tweet=”Behind remarkable beauty lie the ashes of pain. #lifeisbeautiful #bookreview #beautyforashes” username=”lori_schumaker”]

Recently, I was given the opportunity to read the book, Life is Beautiful by Sarah M. Johnson. In the book, Sarah tells us her story. A story so tragic, you cannot help but ask that question …

Where is God in all of this?

On the Other Side of Tragedy - A Book Review for Life is Beautiful

Beautifully written, Sarah pulls you right into the deepest parts of her life. Immediately a sense of concern builds within for this young girl.  I felt my heart respond as a mother, desiring to step into her story and shield her from pain. Dysfunction, alcohol, and drug abuse wreak havoc on the lives of her immediate family as it did the generations before.

In the midst of all the chaos, this young girl always senses the presence of who she calls her “Higher Power”. She knows there is something bigger than her and a comfort and protection that seems to be over her, but yet she doesn’t understand who that “Higher Power” is.

As her family begins the long road to recovery, her father participates in a mission trip that changes him and gives him purpose beyond his addictions. He believes a mission trip together as a family is their next step. Reluctantly, Sarah agrees to participate and the family heads to Guatemala.

But the unthinkable happens.

Their small aircraft crashes killing everyone but Sarah, her mother, and one other man. Sarah crawls from the wreckage leaving the mangled bodies of her brother and father behind. Her mother is trapped and Sarah makes the desperate but unsuccessful attempt to free her as a bystander pulls her away from the consuming fire. She hears her mother screaming, but can do nothing to save her. Miraculously, she finds her mother did survive, but not without severe burns over her entire body.

So, how did this young 19-year-old girl make it through this tragedy?

One foot in front of the other. Baby step by baby step.

She sunk into a depression that once again included vast amounts of alcohol, but she learned that by the grace of God, love of others, and professional help, you can not only survive, but you can find joy again.

And through it all, every bit of tragedy,  she can still call this life beautiful.

Sarah’s story is inspiring.

It’s courageous.

It’s beyond brave.

Over and over again, I found myself wanting to reach out and do something to speak hope into the eyes of that young girl facing such intense tragedy. Maybe it was the magnitude of the situation, or the authentic script, or maybe the fact that this young lady grew up in a small town near my own childhood years.  But, I couldn’t help but feel deeply connected to her throughout the book. I hope and pray now that those surrounding her shower her with BIG love!

But there was one component of this book that caused a falter in my spirit. Sarah never moved from knowing God as more than her “Higher Power”.It was the same tugging I experienced years ago as I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, describe a moment of deep pain crumbling on the bathroom floor. In that moment she heard the voice of God and felt His comforting presence, but never called Him by His true name. She merely gave Him the name of “Higher Power”.

That tugging I felt? The faltering?

It was a sense of aching for Jesus. The only One who suffered for us. The only One who meets us in the deepest darkest places of our life. Who meets us in the tragedy.

It was as if I could hear him say, “But that was Me. I was holding you up. I was protecting you. Me. Not any other god.”

And I wanted sweet Sarah to know, too, that it was Him.

Maybe someday I might get the opportunity and honor of sitting down with this beautiful young woman and talking about where she is now and if she knows that it was Jesus there in those darkest moments with her.

But friends, that falter does not alter my opinion of this book. I highly recommend. It is the kind of book you will pick up and not want to set down until you finish! It’s the kind of book that gives you hope. That shows you we have a strength beyond anything we will ever know. You can find it here on Amazon!

I was given this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Just a reminder, friends, I am launching a new Link-up right here on Searching for Moments! It will begin this Monday, May 2nd and I am titling it, #MomentsofHope . Will you pray with me that this is the beginning of a beautiful hope-filled community? And I would so LOVE for you to join me back here on Monday to contribute and/or soak in some hope!

[bctt tweet=”Join me every Monday for my new link-up #MomentsofHope! #hope #community #encouragement #searchingformoments” username=”lori_schumaker”]

I regularly link up with these encouraging bloggers!

If you are new here or just haven’t gotten around to subscribing to Searching for Moments, would you consider it? I’d love to get to know you better!!! And when you do, you will receive 2 free gifts from me:

  1. My e-book “7 Truths to Remember about Betrayal Companion Journal
  2. 7 Originally Designed Printable Thank You Cards

Similar Posts

I'd love for you to share your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Thanks for the review — so very thoughtful and not at all “cut and dried!”

    And I’m looking forward to the rolling out of your new community! Thanks for the email reminders! I so depend on that sort of thing!

    Every blessing, Lori!

  2. Love this book review, Lori!
    You have a way with words!!
    Glad to be connected with you!
    You are a blessing!

    1. Thanks so much, Melanie! And back ‘atcha my sweet friend!

  3. Thanks for this wonderful review, Lori! Her story sounds beyond hard, especially for a young woman. Wow!

    1. Thank you, Deb! Can you believe this poor young girl endured so much? My heart was aching for her!

  4. Thank you for the thoughtful and moving review of this book. I look forward to reading it. And blessings on your new (ad)venture!

  5. After reading your review, I would really like to read this book. I felt the same way you described after reading, Eat Pray, Love. I so longed to see Jesus get credit (but I still liked the book).

    1. You would love the book, Dawn! Funny that you felt the same way with Eat, Pray, Love! I always remember that moment so clearly! Maybe it was a moment God used to prepare me for the days when my writing adventure would begin. A way of convicting my heart to never forget where credit is due! 🙂
      Blessings and hugs,

  6. Oh, Lori. I, too, read this book, and know of the tender longings you felt for this young women. (I invite you to stop by and read my review, if you’d like).
    Congratulations on your newest venture #MomentsofHope link up! I look forward to joining you here, my friend.
    Have a wonderful day.

    1. Gleniece,
      I loved your review! Beautiful! And it sounds like our hearts in the matter were quite similar! Blessings, friend!

  7. Lori what an excellent review! Your words are thoughtful and loving and direct us towards our Savior who meets us in the darkest moments of our life. I can’t wait for your Monday, Moments of Hope Link-Up!

  8. Thank you for this honest review, Lori. What an unspeakable tragedy! Like you, my heart tugged for her and longed to reach out to her.

    I am looking forward to your Moments of Hope Link-up. Is there a logo that goes along with it or will that be coming? Blessings and hugs to you!

    1. Hi Trudy,
      She truly brings out the Mama in all of us!

      I do have a logo 🙂 It is on my site now! Can’t wait to visit with you there, friend!!

  9. A beautiful review, Lori. Thanks for sharing it with Thankful Thursdays.

  10. What a wonderful review, Lori! This sounds like an intense book, but well worth the read. Thanks so much for sharing with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope you have an amazing Mother’s Day and I look forward to you linking up again this week 🙂

    1. Hi Kelly,
      Yes, most definitely worth the read! You won’t want to put it down!
      Blessings and smiles,