He didn’t go to heaven but he may be going to the bank. Alex Malarkey, the boy made famous by his claim in a bestselling book that he went to heaven, is suing his former publisher Tyndale House. He seeks damages including book profits from the since-retracted story. The revenue from the book was paid to his father Kevin.
“Kevin Malarkey … concocted a story that, during the time Alex was in a coma, he had gone to Heaven, communicated with God the Father, Jesus, angels, and the devil, and then returned,” the complaint says. “Kevin Malarkey sold the concocted story, allegedly about Alex’s life and what Alex allegedly experienced, to one of the largest Christian publishers in the country.”
The story began on Nov. 14, 2004 when 6-year-old Alex Malarkey was a passenger in a car driven by his father Kevin. As Kevin turned left on a rural Ohio road the car collided with another vehicle, and the boy’s skull became completely detached from his spinal cord.
When Alex emerged from a coma he was a quadriplegic.
The 2010 book “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven” listed Malarkey as a coauthor with his father Kevin, but Malarkey retracted the story in 2015 and denies any authorship. “I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible,” he told Tyndale and book sellers at the time, which included LifeWay Christian Resources.
The controversey began during a time of other “heaven stories” including the more famous book and movie, “Heaven is for Real.”
The suit seeks compensatory damages “at least equal to the amount of profits derived from the sale of the book,” punitive damages “which will exceed $50,000.00,” and a permanent injunction for Tyndale House “to take all steps reasonably possible to disassociate Alex’s name from the Book,” according to 32-page lawsuit.
Tyndale House said in a statement called the turn of events “a terribly unfortunate situation which deeply saddens” Tyndale’s entire staff.
“Despite the claims in Alex Malarkey’s lawsuit, Tyndale House paid all royalties that were due under the terms of our contract on his book, The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven,” the publisher said. “Tyndale took the book out of print in 2015 when Alex said that he had fabricated the entire story. Any books still available from online vendors are from third party sellers.”
Alex Malarkey, the subject of the since retracted book “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven,” is suing Tyndale House for damages equal to book sales and an additional $50,000 or more.