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Mela99

Larissa and Ian's Book - Review, Quotes and Questions

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Waffle Time
Mela99

First thought is on Larissa’s family. You get the distinct impression that the accident and Larissa and Steve’s reactions forced sides – and it’s screamingly obvious that Larissa immediately went to Steve’s side and dismissed her family’s counsel. The book is dedicated to “Our dad Steve.†Later, she talks about how she basically dismissed friendships, and her family just didn’t understand why she was with Ian and what she needed from them. Her brother says he wants the old Larissa back. She replies that she does too. She only stays with them at Christmas for a day because being with the Murphys was the only way Ian was kept alive for her.

The book starts out with an immediate theme of “I’m exhausted, I’m tired, I’m sore, I’m sad. I don’t remember what he was like before, is this my life now?â€

My heart broke for her immediately. It was their anniversary, and she starts with this “Ian, I’m so sad. I’m sad for your brain injury.†She then follows up saying that there are very few anniversaries she likes anymore.

Before she met Ian, she was a party girl and alcohol made her an unhappy woman. Ian was friend in a group of friends, and invited her to a Christianity class. (The hilarious part is that I know EXACTLY what class and what people they’re talking about. I literally dropped my Kindle and went, OH MY GOD, “THEMâ€! They were IUP extremists in the religion arena, always trying to get us poor sinners to come. One year they said they were offering a Pizza and Porn Party – which turned out to be pizza and slut shaming.)

She makes a lot of references to his Tom Cruise face and smile, which is cute. Then proceeded to talk about how annoying and not chivalrous or polite he was. She always follows it up with feeling bad for judging him on those things.

They had a ‘get to know you period’ then a courtship period. They didn’t call it that, but it’s obvious that is what it was. They had been “fake dating†but then Ian spoke to his parents and told them he was ready to pursue a relationship that could potentially lead to marriage. He told them “Larissa has a teachable heart and is willing to grow in her understanding of God.†Steve told him since he was brave enough to ask his parents, he was ready to date.

A note on his parents – homeschoolers, and 4 kids, youngest was age 2 at the time of his accident.

She also explains that he was obnoxious about her because he grew up close to two female cousins. Once he tells her he can see her mustache from across the room, and she starts to cry. He gets confused and says he thought she would want to know so she could do something about it.

She knows he’s dating her to become his wife and she’s immediately uneasy, and says she doesn’t know what it would be like to be a wife, but knows God is leading her towards it. She starts a prayer accountability group with other girls at Ian’s behest. He routinely points out her sinfulness and encourages her to do the same for him.

“He cried when we talked about choices I had made before I knew him, before I loved him, before I knew how much those choices would hurt him.†She gave away pieces of her heart, people. But then he forgave her…

They wanted to move to DC and be city people and get married the spring after they both graduated. He was working two jobs to buy a ring.

“Looking at him, I smile with the weight of a hard-earned love.†I wish I knew what she meant by that. She’s looking at him post accident.

Larissa was at a bridal shower when Mary (Ian’s Mom) came to her with the news.

The accident – basically an SUV completely crushed him and his station wagon. Like, on top of it, and they had to dig him out with the Jaws of Life.

Larissa has written in journals her whole life, and starts writing letters to Ian that night in the hospital. Immediately she says that she knows she couldn’t do this for long and hoped it wouldn’t be required of her. Required of her ….

Ian was failing four out of five brain tests. They then start to talk about letting him die and letting him go. Later she tells Ian about that and said they couldn’t decide for him. He says thank you.

She didn’t want her parents with her for the most part. She wanted to be there alone. They actually got kicked out of the hospital waiting room from taking it over from other families.

The doctors told her and the family to yell to him – clap hands, tell him to come back, etc. She only whispers because “girlfriends do not yell.â€

She goes to her sister’s wedding the next month and is in agony on the whole time, and breaks down after being forced to dance once with her dad. She asks her mom to destroy the bridal pictures with her in them.

Ian gets sent to a rehab center where, admittedly, the care seems pretty shitty. They move him to a

children’s rehab, and then he starts dying, so back to the hospital. That fall the university grants Ian his diploma and his best friend accepts it. I remember that. It was big news on campus.

Ian goes home later, and Larissa stays with them, taking care of him from the start. On her birthday later, she writes in her journal that she would rather God take him home then force him to live like this. She breaks down and wants a break from it all, and tells Ian. He touches her hand and she asks him to blink twice if he wants her to stay and if he loves her. He does.

She’s so angry for a while. A long while. Apparently she was a sassy, witty, sarcastic child and now all she prays for is to be more gentle. She seems to feel so much guilt, and feels like she’s not doing enough. She keeps asking Ian questions like, Tell me you love me, tell me I’m your favorite person, please say you love me. Then feels sad when she can’t understand his answer. The crazy part is THIS is where she starts thinking about marrying him. Their friends and family start getting engaged and marrying, including Ian’s brother marrying Larissa’s best friend. And she grieves through it. She has a breakdown in a parking lot screaming and howling and blaming God and sobbing because she was so unhappy she couldn’t celebrate with her friends. She dreams of a house and a husband and a baby girl. She looked at wedding dresses while Ian was first sick and almost bought one, but then couldn’t.

“All of the progress Ian was making wasn’t changing my grief.†This was a hard one to read. (I just want to reach out and hug her. She so needed to be personally loved and taken care of and comforted)

Later, when Ian starts communicating a little, they pray together. Ian wants to pray for Larissa. She sees it as a glimmer of hope. They get a nephew later and Ian says he feels “avuncular – like an uncleâ€. This is more proof that maybe she can marry him.

Steve has brain cancer and is told he has 14 weeks to live. Their last conversations with Steve were almost always about marriage. He pushed them to make a decision, marriage or Larissa had to leave. It was wrong to be in the limbo of dating. Steve schools Ian on the book of Job. The book of Job = suffering.

Ian has a massive seizure and is rushed to the hospital. Larissa collapses and says she cannot do this again . Turns out to be a somewhat normal reaction and Ian is fine. Steve has a massive surgery to remove half his brain. Larissa promises him she’ll take care of Ian. Steve dies later.

She goes back and forth in the book on past and present, and so much of it is her breaking down, then apologizing to Ian and asking why he is so nice to her and why he loves her. The response is always “Jesus.â€

She includes an absolutely heart wrenching journal entry where she’s so sad, so anxious, saying she cannot survive physically, she feels so weary, and cannot separate her feelings for Ian and her mental status. She wants Ian to go to heaven soon. She cannot fathom another day like this.

Then she moves right into the proposal. They’re on a winter vacation and while Ian and Larissa sit together, someone above lowers a string with a box. His mom and sisters tried to help pick a ring Larissa would like, Ian refuses their suggestions and insists he choose. He proposes. But she doesn’t mention ever saying yes…. She goes to look at wedding websites that night and Ian has another seizure. Soon after, his therapists say that Ian simply wasn’t responding enough and they can no longer work with him.

She reiterates her last conversation with Steve, saying she could not go back on her promise to Steve.

She starts thinking about what her life as wife and caretaker will be and likens it to pure panic and feeling that “my upcoming marriage is a death sentence.†But Ian was not worried. He tells her she would do anything for him, so she will be a good helper.

As the wedding approaches she is scared and uncertain and weak. She says she is simply terrified of herself.

At their shower, she wonders if friends and family mean the nice things they say, or if they thought she was crazy or angry at Ian for stealing Larissa’s future.

Ian keeps forgetting that they’re getting married. “Something†is coming up, but he keeps forgetting what.

She is disappointed in herself that all she feels is fear and anxiety before the wedding and can’t enjoy him, just worries about his brain injury. But God would make her stop loving Ian if she wasn’t meant to marry him.

As she walks down the aisle, she thinks he is about to become disabled because becoming one with Ian will make her half broken. Her dad walks her, and they both cry. She fights not to because “the tears will stay for hours.â€

She talks so much about Ian’s happiness at the wedding, his smiles, his joy an laughter. They go to their honeymoon cabin and the bed is surrounded with candles and they have entered into a new covenant into a “sovereignly disabled marriage.â€

She actually, uh, asks him what the best part of marriage is, and he responds with sex. She talks a little about kisses as foreplay and tells him what an encouragement he is and all the good things about him…. Dissolves.

Money is an issue, but Ian is a good headship. Grandma gives them a much needed car, and Larissa wants to sell it for money. Ian does the right thing and tells her they need to give it away.

Epilogue is by Ian talking about a vacation trip and God. Then by Steve saying about how he sees God in Larissa.

It’s… quite a read.

Questions from FJers:

Legalities: She honestly doesn’t discuss them at all. I have a feeling it was something that was cut from the story to make it more… palatable. A story about love overcoming all is better than… well, love needing the court’s blessing to continue.

Sexual temptation: She discusses their wedding night, and they were both virgins (or so I gather. He was, anyway.) They would not let Larissa help with Ian “personally†until they were married. She confesses lust after “an able bodied man.†And Ian wants to pray for her, and doesn’t take it personally because God.

The Accident: She did not go into further detail on who was at fault and why.

Her Family and Friends Reactions: After the proposal she tells people and their responses are “confusion and questioning.†The Murphy friends and church friends are supportive. “Look at what God has done.†They see Ian and Larissa as a sign of God’s accomplishment.

Having Kids: She seems to really want kids, but admits she doesn’t think she could find joy in it because she couldn’t take care of Ian and a baby. How could she feed him dinner and be up all night with a baby and help him in the morning. She doesn’t anticipate joy, only difficulty.

Notable Quotes:

“He had a girlfriend he needed to make his wife because she needed to learn how to love.â€

On not helping with Ian’s personal needs: “After all, I was still just his girlfriend. They wanted me to be a relief for Ian, a person who was dedicated solely to having fun with him.†But then she gets upset because she doesn’t want someone else washing him or tracking his bowel movements.

Steve to Larissa: “You need something to keep you going. You don’t have anything.†So she starts going to a gym to make herself stronger to take care of Ian.

On dying and going to Heaven together: “I’m so happy, Ian. I’m actually happy tonight! Can you imagine what heaven must feel like when we’re released into complete and perfect joy?†Ian responds, “I can’t wait to share that with you.†I stopped, a smile peering out of my lips. He loves me so much that he’s looking forward to sharing heaven’s greatest joys WITH ME! He’s excited for us to see each other in perfection as we come into Christ! (She seems SO DEPRESSED in so much of this book. Saying how she can’t wait for it all to be over.)

On marriage: “I didn’t know what it would mean to marry someone in Ian’s health. He loved my soul, but I didn’t know if love for my soul could fill the gaps I would feel in my heart.â€

After Steve’s Death: “I can’t do this, I don’t want this, I’m suffocating.â€

Before Marriage: “Oh god, please change my heart, please teach me love.â€

After Marriage: “Drowning in thoughts of the things he can’t do launches an angry voice from my lungs, far too angry for a wife.â€

On her Calling: “Isn’t this what I have been called to do? This life of dependency on the one who made me? This life that doesn’t make me comfortable because this discomfort is exactly what I need to make heaven more irresistible.â€

On wedding gifts: “I wondered if they knew how fake it all felt because our life wasn’t normal and we really didn’t need a set of dishes – we needed God.â€

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salex

Wow. Thanks for the report.

Poor Larissa got caught up in a cult and couldn't escape, even when her better judgement was telling her she should.

Ian sounds creepy and culty before the accident. I would have dumped any man who cried about choices I made before him--- and I am old and married young and didn't make much in the way of choices before my husband-- but even at 19, I'd have ditched any man who tried to play up my sinfulness.

I pity her more after your review, and Ian as well.

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Firiel

Like salex, I was also struck with the fact that Ian sounded like a jerk pre-accident.

This is such a sad, sad story. My heart breaks for Larissa when I hear it. Nothing that you've written about the book makes it sound like marrying Ian was something she actually wanted to do.

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Eternalbluepearl

Oh this is quite sad, indeed. She has been made to believe that anything that feels wrong is just her heart needing to be changed. That sounds abusive.

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lilwriter85

I agree with others, Ian sounded like a jerk pre-accident.

In previous Ian and Larissa threads, there were links to some site that said the church Ian and Larissa attend is cult like and the pastor has a shaky reptuation. I think Larissa has been taken advantage of.

Thank you Mela99 for doing this review and Q&A.

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Happy
ViolaSebastian

Girlfriend sounds extremely depressed. I wonder if she's getting any support from a therapist--even the most mentally stable of us would be susceptible to clinical depression in this scenario.

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ThatSnark

Damn. I would have run screaming from Ian by or before the "Pizza and Porn" night. Anyone who chooses to focus on my "sin" instead of who I am and what my dreams are doesn't deserve to share pizza or porn with me.

Larissa is another sad example of cult ideology taken out to the extreme, and of someone so surrounded by it that she sees no way out. There was no one she was permitted to be close with who could say, "FFS, you can just go. It doesn't make you a bad person. These people are manipulating you to get free, permanent care for their disabled family member." Because God, I know.

I feel sorry for her and angry with her all at once, because now she's pretty well stuck, and the happiness just isn't around the corner. She mentioned lusting after an able-bodied man. I wonder if she will break down at some point and have an affair? I would imagine that to be very freeing and fulfilling for her, while breaking her down with guilt. Nothing easy here.

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Waffle Time
Mela99

Does anybody else have specific questions? I'll answer them best I can.

I just have a broken heart for her, I really do. I didn't see anything about Larissa herself. What she likes and dislikes, who she is outside of "Mrs. Murphy."

I don't think she lets herself exist outside of that . . .

I'll be visiting Indiana/IUP next month. I'd love to run into her and just give her a hug and offer to buy her a cup of coffee... She mentions enjoying a local coffee place - my favorite - sigh. I'll keep an eye out.

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treemom

This just makes me sad. And not because of Ian's disability but because it just makes me sad. Larissa deserves to be loved and Ian deserves that too and it just seems like his family convinced them both so she could take care of him.

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bionicmlle

Thanks for the book report.

That is the saddest thing I have read in a long time, but I agree with ThatSnark that I also feel a little angry with her at the same time (while trying to not fall into a blame-the-victim-of-the-cult scenario). She abandoned her family very early on for some tripe she heard from an asshole boyfriend. Sorry - he sounds like a real piece of work. Very sad about him being in an accident and being so dependent, but it seems he retained a defining part of his character....

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Waffle Time
Mela99
Girlfriend sounds extremely depressed. I wonder if she's getting any support from a therapist--even the most mentally stable of us would be susceptible to clinical depression in this scenario.

She mentions talking with the pastor a few times, but she really only seems to draw support from the Murphys and other church people.

That makes me a little sad, too, because if that church is anything like it was when I lived in Indiana, they frown on outside intervention.

Ian can have all the therapy and such he needs - art, music, prayer - but I can't help but feel Larissa needs more than a bible group and a small town preacher. She asks the pastor once tearfully that God won't give her more than she can handle, and he laughs and replies that that is not in the bible, but she can pray for grace to get her through it.

Not how I probably would have responded....

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louisa05

This is just awful. It sounds like she needed to get the hell away from Ian Murphy long before he had his accident. That just makes me so sad. It sounds like she doesn't even have much happiness with him from before to sustain her--just the memory that she wasn't good enough then, either.

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Aurora rising

I live in Germany and her book (and their story) was featured on (at?) TV. It was so... disgusting, ending with "THIS is the real love!" I have no idea why they choosed to present their story like a wonderful romantic story with a nice happy-end.

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lilwriter85
Thanks for the book report.

That is the saddest thing I have read in a long time, but I agree with ThatSnark that I also feel a little angry with her at the same time (while trying to not fall into a blame-the-victim-of-the-cult scenario). She abandoned her family very early on for some tripe she heard from an asshole boyfriend. Sorry - he sounds like a real piece of work. Very sad about him being in an accident and being so dependent, but it seems he retained a defining part of his character....

I'm also a little angry with her too. As previously mentioned, Ian came off as a jerk before the accident and his family seems the same way. I have no idea if Larissa's family are decent people, but maybe this wrong to say, but I kind of think she should have considered them too in the beginning. She was also a bit young too. I'm the same age as her and Ian. But I remember being 21 and 22 and still needing a lot of guidance.

For awhile, I was tempted to buy Larissa's book because she seems a bit likable compared to some bloggers who have book releases. Again, I'm thankful to Mela99 for doing the review. But now, I don't know if I want to read Larissa's book.

I have been following the new blog, Pray for Ian FB, and their twitter since the book was released. They are getting some attention with some Christian media outlets, but overall they aren't getting a lot of attention. I hate to say this, but I wonder if some Christian media outlets are avoiding promoting Larissa's book because they suspect a lot of things regarding Ian's family and the church.

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Letgo

I have been reading prayforIan since shortly after the accident. (The accident seemed to be Ian's fault, although they don't really know what happened. He cannot remember it. From what I've read, he veered into the lane of the oncoming vehicle. They are never very clear on this, but this is what I have gleaned form reading their blog and others.)

The marriage has always bothered me. I am not sure how mentally competent Ian is. I am pretty sure Ian is not just the old Ian with physical and communication limitations and a few memory issues. He seems child-like in some ways. I think that is part of what bothers me. I cannot imagine having sex with him. The child-like part bothers me a great deal. I know he is an adult, but still. I can't even type what I'm thinking, so I will move on...

Poor Larissa. I have always wondered about her family-how they felt about the marriage. I would never encourage one of my children to marry a person in Ian's situation. Had they already been married, no question, she should stay. I believe in marriage vows. But it sounds to me as if Ian and Larissa did not even have the best relationship prior to the accident. It was certainly not a very long relationship. I think Larissa should have maintained a friendship with Ian while going on with her life. Why was it marriage or nothing? Was Steve looking for a permanent caregiver for Ian before he died? If Larissa was so hesitant and fearful of marrying Ian, why did she? From reading Mela99's review, Larissa did know that she would be a caretaker; she did not plan that wedding thinking she was heading into marital bliss. Did no one in his family, her family, circle of friends, anyone, ever, tell her not to do it in a way that made Biblical sense? I just can't believe that everyone thought that marriage was such a great idea, but that is the impression I get from the blog, the wedding photos, the comments, other blogs...

Mela99-Did anyone attempt to talk Larissa out of marrying Ian? A pastor? A counselor? Or has she just cut others out of her life, except Ian's family and friends? Are Larissa's parents Christian?

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CrazyCatLady

I'm wondering if Ian commenting on all of Larissa's sins left her feeling like no other man could/would love her?

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lilwriter85
I have been reading prayforIan since shortly after the accident. (The accident seemed to be Ian's fault, although they don't really know what happened. He cannot remember it. From what I've read, he veered into the lane of the oncoming vehicle. They are never very clear on this, but this is what I have gleaned form reading their blog and others.)

The marriage has always bothered me. I am not sure how mentally competent Ian is. I am pretty sure Ian is not just the old Ian with physical and communication limitations and a few memory issues. He seems child-like in some ways. I think that is part of what bothers me. I cannot imagine having sex with him. The child-like part bothers me a great deal. I know he is an adult, but still. I can't even type what I'm thinking, so I will move on...

Poor Larissa. I have always wondered about her family-how they felt about the marriage. I would never encourage one of my children to marry a person in Ian's situation. Had they already been married, no question, she should stay. I believe in marriage vows. But it sounds to me as if Ian and Larissa did not even have the best relationship prior to the accident. It was certainly not a very long relationship. I think Larissa should have maintained a friendship with Ian while going on with her life. Why was it marriage or nothing? Was Steve looking for a permanent caregiver for Ian before he died? If Larissa was so hesitant and fearful of marrying Ian, why did she? From reading Mela99's review, Larissa did know that she would be a caretaker; she did not plan that wedding thinking she was heading into marital bliss. Did no one in his family, her family, circle of friends, anyone, ever, tell her not to do it in a way that made Biblical sense? I just can't believe that everyone thought that marriage was such a great idea, but that is the impression I get from the blog, the wedding photos, the comments, other blogs...

Mela99-Did anyone attempt to talk Larissa out of marrying Ian? A pastor? A counselor? Or has she just cut others out of her life, except Ian's family and friends? Are Larissa's parents Christian?

I'm wondering the same thing and I can get the sense that Steve was a bit of manipulator.

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Waffle Time
Mela99

Mela99-Did anyone attempt to talk Larissa out of marrying Ian? A pastor? A counselor? Or has she just cut others out of her life, except Ian's family and friends? Are Larissa's parents Christian?

She skims over people who are "questioning" and "confused" by her engagement to Ian. There was only ONE instance in the book where a pastor -- Ian's, of course -- asks her if she feels obligated to stay. She doesn't really answer him, she just says that this is her calling. Mary gave an interview once saying that Larissa was just too far in to ever consider going.

She talks about celebrating Christmas and Easter growing up, so her family has some sense of Christian influence, but no real details. The family details are always, always about Ian's family, his parents, grandparents, church friends. She has a conversation with her own grandmother in the book but parents and siblings are NOTICEABLY absent from day to day life.

She mentioned that she knew that they were probably hurt that she attached herself to Ian's family, but follows it up by saying only Ian's family would understand, and only with them was the old Ian still alive for her.

I so wanted SOMETHING - parents, sisters, anything, telling her they love her and she needs to take care of herself first and just... anything. They were with her at the hospital for a few days but she doesn't want them there. Her brother empties his whole wallet out for her to take care of herself. 20 years old. Not even old enough to consider drinking but old enough to consider a lifetime commitment to a disabled man.

I wanted to see a fight between the two moms, have her mom TELL Mary she was taking Larissa out of the situation. Physically remove her if she had to.

But no. I get the very strong feeling Ian and Steve were just . . . strong personalities. And I firmly believe she spiraled VERY quickly downward into some SEVERE clinical depression . . .

I don't know who all has Kindle -- or if I can even do this, I've never tried -- but I'm happy to loan the eBook to anybody who would like to read it.

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PurpleSheepleEater

So sad.

Personally I think Steve's death bed ultimatum was completely unfair and manipulative. People should not make those who will have to live life after they die promise anything. Just wrong.

The thought of her being a virgin and him being her only experience also makes me really sad for her. She deserves so much more than to be a nurse with benefits and it really sounds like she's forcing herself to endure the whole thing.

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salex

Since she was a virgin, wtf was Ian guilting her for-- kissing, dating, having a boyfriend or a drink . That makes him even more of a dick before the accident than I thought.

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Milly-Molly-Mandy

This book makes her situation even more tragic.

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PetuniaChowder

I am pretty sure they live less than two blocks from me - a house recently sold and had a bunch of modifications made to it - last time I walked the dog by it looked like they were putting in ramps but that's been a while.

I think she got trapped into the marriage by the "deathbed ultimatum" but for the life of me I cannot imagine how a judge allowed them to marry - how can he possibly have the capacity to consent to marriage and sexual intercourse?? And dear lord, what if a baby comes along - is he going to be able to restrain the impulse to lash out if/when it annoys him?

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lilwriter85
I am pretty sure they live less than two blocks from me - a house recently sold and had a bunch of modifications made to it - last time I walked the dog by it looked like they were putting in ramps but that's been a while.

I think she got trapped into the marriage by the "deathbed ultimatum" but for the life of me I cannot imagine how a judge allowed them to marry - how can he possibly have the capacity to consent to marriage and sexual intercourse?? And dear lord, what if a baby comes along - is he going to be able to restrain the impulse to lash out if/when it annoys him?

It has been speculated here by several posters that the judge might have been connected to their church or maybe to Ian's family.

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Waffle Time
Mela99
I am pretty sure they live less than two blocks from me - a house recently sold and had a bunch of modifications made to it - last time I walked the dog by it looked like they were putting in ramps but that's been a while.

I think she got trapped into the marriage by the "deathbed ultimatum" but for the life of me I cannot imagine how a judge allowed them to marry - how can he possibly have the capacity to consent to marriage and sexual intercourse?? And dear lord, what if a baby comes along - is he going to be able to restrain the impulse to lash out if/when it annoys him?

I know the general area where the house is. We'll be in Indiana in two weeks for a few days for a wedding. I ALMOST want to drive by, but I don't think I can be that level of creepy.

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Waffle Time
Palimpsest

Mela99, did she go into the competency hearing before the judge at all?

Someone very close to the situation had very real concerns to force the competency hearing. I'm not in the conspiracy theorist camp that says the judge ruled that Ian was competent to consent to marriage because he had connections to Ian's family. You never know which way a judge will jump in a competency case.

As to the rest, this story is dreadful. Steve sounds like a manipulative jackass even on his deathbed. Healthy Ian sounds crass to almost the point of being abusive. He actually sounds like a pleasanter person post TBI.

Wrapping up this tragic situation in pretty paper all tied up with a "Christian" bow on top is vile. Poor Larissa. She is trapped.

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