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Let It Go: A True Story of Tragedy and Forgiveness

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Book by Chris Williams

151 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

Chris Williams

1 book31 followers
Chris Williams was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah.

After graduating from the University of Utah, he went to work as an IT architect and systems engineer. He is now an executive with IBM.

He and his family currently reside in Salt Lake City.

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5 stars
884 (46%)
4 stars
695 (36%)
3 stars
248 (12%)
2 stars
64 (3%)
1 star
22 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 481 reviews
Profile Image for Linda.
215 reviews
December 20, 2012
I couldn't feel justified in rating this book. In very personal grief memoirs such as this one, it is the author's opportunity and privilege to share his meaning making without being rated. It is the readers' privilege to sift through and choose those things which add to their own search for meaning. Many thanks to the author for sharing and adding to my quest for meaning.
Profile Image for Loni Spendlove.
104 reviews
July 7, 2012
How can someone forgive completely at the apex of a excruciating tragedy? In the moment he realized that his wife and two of his four children were gone after a drunk driver crashed into their car, Chris Williams heard a command to "Let it Go!". Williams' story does not focus on his supernatural ability to forgive, but on how willing he was to let Christ bear his burdens. Heads up: If you are going to read this book, grab a box of Kleenex! This was such a personal and moving message that will cause you to consider how well you allow Christ to direct your life...and teaches you why it is so crucial to let Him. I'd love to give one to everyone I know!
Profile Image for Erika B. (SOS BOOKS).
1,290 reviews132 followers
August 6, 2012
"No, this sound was coming from right where I sat, not from my throat, but from deep inside my body. I was the one making that horrific sound-that sound of excruciating anguish and pain, of a body and a spirit being crushed. I opened my eyes and turned to look out the driver's side window. I saw the car that had just hit us resting upside down on it's roof about fifty feet uphill from my car. The horrific sound ceased as did the voices outside the car; there was suddenly an immense peace and silence that filled the inside of the vehicle, my soul, and my thoughts. I had no idea who had just hit us, and my mind didn't think to consider if they were all right or not, or what circumstances might have caused them to cross the median and strike us. I simply looked at the car in silence. My thoughts went quiet, I felt at peace, and then I heard a voice that was not my own in my mind as clearly as if it had come from someone seated next to me. It wasn't a peaceful, whispered voice, nor was it the still, small prompting of the Spirit; it was straightforward and filled with power, and the voice said, "Let it go!" My soul had just been exposed to such pain that I knew in the brief feeling of utter nothingness I had been allowed to experience that I had no power to even try and take this burden at all. I committed as I sat in that driver's seat-looking at the car that had just killed my wife, Michelle; our baby, William; my son Benjamin; and my daughter, Anna-to let it go, all of it, holding nothing back. This was not my burden to carry, and I would be crushed no more. I knew who would carry that burden: He who had already endured the soul-crushing press of the pains of all men, including this burden, so that I would not have to bear my infinitely miniscule portion of what He bore. In that instant of grace and revalation, I knew that my Savior lived, that He was immediately present with me in my time of greatest need, with healing in His wings. It was as if angels had prepared that scene for my private final viewing of my family while they passed to the other side. Those images and the recollection of that last good-bye are still so vivid in my mind; they remain one of the sweetest tender mercies that I have ever received." -Chris Williams

Wow wow wow! What a super powerful story about coping with death and the healing power of forgiveness. Chris Williams lost his wife, unborn child, and two of his four children in a drunk driving accident. He instantly forgave and let go of that anger that he could have succumbed to.
Profile Image for Stacey.
422 reviews4 followers
February 7, 2013
For some reason I had a hard time reading this book. It didn't take me long to get through (its very short), along with being incredibly sad it just didn't seem very cohesive. At many times his thoughts seemed very scattered. And because he was constantly phasing in and out of past events to relate to the main story it was difficult to go back and forth. Granted, I understand that he is not a writer. It just seems like the publishing company would have provided a good editor to assist him in making everything flow better.
Chris Williams tells his story of healing following a tragic car accident in which his wife, unborn child and two other children were instantly killed. The crash also injured himself and his young son sitting directly behind him. Despite the fact that I had a hard time with his writing style, I was very touched by his story. Immediately after the crash he felt a very strong impression to "let it go" and amazingly he did. The power and control he exercised by choosing to not blame or be angry with the teenager that forever changed his life is extensively explained in the book as the enabling power of the atonement that is only possible because of the sacrifice of our Savior. I frequently found myself in tears while reading, and I am in awe of the testimony that he bore in this book.
I would really have liked to have read more about his family and wife that he lost. I feel like had he shared more about their lives previously it would have made the story even more powerful and touching, however I imagine he is also probably trying to protect their family's privacy. I think if he had added a little more to it, he might have been able to prevent the phasing in and out of the past experiences parts that I didn't really like.
This book is a must read for anyone that is looking to find the strength to let go and move forward and away from their past experiences.
Profile Image for Cathi.
911 reviews2 followers
December 20, 2012
Because I had seen the Mormon.org video about Chris Williams several years ago and because I heard him speak at Time Out For Women this fall, I really wanted to read his book. I'm very grateful that I did. Of course, this book is difficult to read at times, because of the incredible tragedy that the Williams family endured. But I loved Brother Williams' candid realism, sense of humor, and optimism, even as he tells about heart-breaking situations and emotions. Also, the book's overall message of forgiveness and moving forward is just what I needed to read.
Profile Image for Ali.
881 reviews17 followers
October 12, 2015
What a great example of true forgiveness... which is offered whether the offender asks for it or not. I appreciated reading the personal, religious and moral motives behind his actions but would have liked a little more practical insight into his family members experience, the kid who drove the other car, and more about their interactions. However, I realize he wrote this book as a personal perspective and it was inspiring nonetheless.
Profile Image for A. R..
Author 3 books44 followers
April 16, 2013
I was interested in this story but a little apprehensive to read the book. I was afraid it was going to be 1. a great tearfest (it was) and 2, guilt inducing. I mean seriously, this man lost his wife, unborn child, and a son and daughter in a tragic accident...how could my measly troubles even compare? I was so pleased to find I was wrong on the second count.

Yes, there was a feeling as I began to read his account that my life is a cake walk. But the more I read the less I felt that way. His story is one of survival. And he recognized that we all have trials. We all are survivors. What may appear as nothing to one person is incredibly difficult for another. There wasn't any point in this book that I felt Williams was saying my struggles are worse than yours. In fact, what I felt from his story was one of love and support and some suggestions on how anyone can face any trial.

The main focus was on forgiveness and moving on. We all have people in our lives we need to forgive. It was interesting to read how he accomplished that. I found myself thinking - I could do that . . . I could take that attitude.

He does mention, that even five years later he still grieves and misses his family, but you know that it doesn't overshadow his present life. In a way, it was permission to still feel regrets, but again encouragement to move on.

Great read. I would recommend this to everyone!

Profile Image for Virginia.
16 reviews4 followers
July 28, 2012
Name: Let it Go: A True Story of Tragedy & Forgiveness
Author: Chris Williams
ISBN: 9781609071271
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Deseret Book Company
Publication/Expected Publication: July 30, 2012

If you are not a Christian, this book will probably not interest you. The author is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. When tragedy strikes his family (in the form of a drunk driving accident), he depends on his faith in God to see him through those trying times.

It was hard for me to enjoy the book because it was so laden with Christian and LDS terminology and sentiments. Nearly every page credited the author's Savior with feeling the need to connect with so and so, or to talk to his son about such and such, or write his thoughts about a certain topic. I respect people's religions, and I admire what the author has had to overcome; however, I must admit that if this had been marked as "Christian" in Netgalley, I probably would not have requested it.

**Please note that I did receive a free copy of this book via Netgalley.**
Profile Image for Staci.
99 reviews
July 20, 2013
Read this for book club and boy was I hesitant! Perhaps I wasn't in the right mindset but it reminded me an awful lot of the movie "Signs". Tragic event happens and then the author goes back over everything that prepared him for that event.
It was encouraging and yet almost overwhelming. I tried to read passages to my husband and we discussed how my mother reacted to my dad being killed in a motorcycle accident when I was 5. She did not pass along angry feelings about the man who hit my dad. She taught me that sometimes bad things happen. And lots of bad things happened to this author!
Very emotional subject matter told with detachment. Could have been an overly sentimental mess yet it was not.
Profile Image for Lori.
Author 4 books16 followers
January 14, 2013
This one was a tear jerker! I found that Williams way of "letting it go" applies to all aspects of life not just the big ones - like loosing your family to a drunk driver. I found his insight very thought provoking and was in awe of his ability to remain true to his committment that he made just minutes after the accident. I loved his perspective of the Atonement and it really brought a new level of understanding for me. It is a very abstract topic but one that affects our lives in ways that I am continually learning about.
732 reviews6 followers
August 18, 2017
This is a wonderful book that everyone should read. We all have some burden that we need to let go and move on to live life to the fullest. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. It is a book that will cause you to stop and take a look at your own life.
Profile Image for Alisa.
1,067 reviews7 followers
November 22, 2017
Short read. I enjoyed the aspects of how this author realizes forgiveness and letting a very hard thing be turned over to the Savior. Sometimes that aspect of the Atonement is "hard to recognize", but I like how he explains it. It was a little disjointed in parts, but overall, it was such a sweet story of a man overcoming such a hard, hard experience and how he didn't do it alone.
Profile Image for Cindy.
151 reviews
March 20, 2017
Amazing story of grief and forgiveness. A practical guide to walking through tragedy and grief. A very inspirational book.
Profile Image for Beth Given.
1,269 reviews37 followers
May 16, 2014
A sad yet hopeful, beautiful story: a man loses his pregnant wife and two of his children in a car accident but immediately (like, while still at the crash site) forgives the teenaged drunk driver who caused it. At first I didn't know how I would feel about that -- it doesn't seem a reasonable reaction -- but I came to really appreciate and admire his perspective. If there was something I learned from Chris Williams' story, it is that forgiveness is both a gift and a choice: a gift in that it comes only through Christ's infinite Atonement, and a choice to keep the commandment to "forgive all men" and to let Christ take that burden of pain and hurt that He has already suffered for.

I loved the way that Brother Williams describes how the Atonement was infused into varying steps of his grieving and healing process -- from those first moments of shock to the long days of loneliness. This is a slim volume but is just brimming with spiritual insights -- tender mercies manifesting the very real connection between this mortal existence and heaven.

This book was especially poignant to finish today as our nation and parents everywhere mourn over the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. I appreciate Brother Williams sharing this deeply personal story for the spiritual welfare of others. It has helped me today. (DECEMBER 2012)


I just reread this book and I stand by this original review. I think I should revisit this book every once in awhile.

Quotes I liked:

"I am a quick study when properly motivated, but unfortunately, I've found that whatever knowledge I thought I had gained in those cram sessions usually didn't stick as well as something that was painfully pressed into my soul over a longer period of time."

"Without the necessary healing the Savior provides, over time we may begin to wonder why we're not as happy as we used to be, why we're a little more critical, a little less patient, and more judgmental, why we withhold our love and affection rather than give it -- all the while feeling more miserable, rather than joyful in this life."

"I cried for so long it hurt. My body sunk to the floor, and the image of a plane headed for a fiery crash came into my mind. I've never flown a plane, but I have played flight simulator games on the computer that mimic what it would be like in the cockpit. Whenever I would put the simulated plane into a nosedive, the warning system would audibly give the command to "Pull up! Pull up! Pull up!" I heard that warning in a pronounced way in my mind as I lay on the floor, so I stood and left the house for a long walk. After a few hours of pondering and praying as I walked, I slowly felt the comfort I sought; I had avoided a horrific emotional crash. For me, that command to "pull up" became a very helpful phrase to repeat when i felt I was passing through too much and couldn't take it anymore."

"So often in my life I've tried to direct or rush the Savior into producing a blessing or the final outcome during a trial. Like so many things of worth, outcomes take time to materialize -- sometimes years and years -- and when I'm in the thick of the trial, I have the worst perspective on that time or when it will end." (MAY 2014)
Profile Image for Annie.
348 reviews
November 16, 2012
I don’t know if there is a word to accurately describe the enormity of this slim book. It’s heart-wrenching and personal, a horrific tragedy that becomes astoundingly uplifting and incredibly inspirational. I would recommend this to anyone with a problem, anyone going through a tough time. The events Chris Williams experienced, and the decisions he made as a result of them, are humbling to say the least.
Chris Williams is a happily married father of four children, with one on the way. One Friday night in February 2007, after a seemingly normal dinner out, while driving to pick up one son at his friends house, the Williams drove underneath a freeway underpass and were struck by a teenage drunk driver. Michelle, Chris’s wife, their baby boy in utero, and his children, Anna and Ben, were killed. Chris realizes this instantly as he wakes up in the wrecked car. He hears a voice, commanding him to “Let it go.” The events that unfold, press conferences, court proceedings, his surviving son’s recovery, and Chris’s healing and rebuilding of his life are miraculous, moving and encouraging.
The prose is straightforward, honest and simple. It’s a personal account, written in a conversational style, interspersed with pictures. It’s straightforward, although not completely chronological. There are some flashbacks and asides throughout, including one from when Chris was a teenage boy, and ironically (or not) has similar tones to his present situation. The perspective that Chris Williams relays is magnificent. I hope to always remember his message and emulate his example.

(Side note: I lived by the road where this accident happened. I remember my Grandma asking if I had seen anything, but I don’t believe I was home that evening. I also remember the Trolley Square shootings that he references in his book. I knew many of the places and experiences that were referenced in this story as it took place in my home state. I also could really relate to putting a heavy burden on the Savior because that’s what I have had to do with my divorce.)

Favorite Quotes
Although the press attributed this outcome to what I had said, I knew that the forgiveness and mercy was extended by the Savior, and that I had simply benefited from His strength when He spoke through me. I had experienced my weaknesses when I was left to my own abilities, so I was fully aware of who was in charge of the many miracles that were starting to transpire, of the souls that were being touched, and of the lives that were being changed.

The Savior had suffered all so that we would not have to. He said He would take our burdens, and He repeated the invitation to give them to Him while He ministered in the flesh, and He has since reminded us what He accomplished in the Atonement. There’s no way I was or ever will be strong enough to bear that burden I was presented on the night of the crash. It was immediately given to the Lord at His command, and I instead took upon me His light burden and easy yoke of serving and loving others-having full faith in the Savior and in His ability to bear my heavy burden and to heal my family.
Profile Image for Amber Spencer.
742 reviews1 follower
May 20, 2017
I purposely stay away from books that might wrench at my heart. But I pushed through this one for a book group. It has a lot of hard parts to read if you love anyone if your family, but the story focuses so much more on the growth and love and strength that come to all of us when we turn our burdens over to the Savior and let His healing Atonement penetrate our hearts and lives. Chris tells the story in an open and honest way - everything isn't easy or fun. It felt real, personal and hopeful.
Profile Image for Lynne.
176 reviews11 followers
January 5, 2013
3.5 Stars

A 17 year-old boy hits the author's car while drunk driving and kills his wife - who is 5 months pregnant, as well as his son and daughter. Another son is critically injured. He forgives the driver, who is tried as a juvenile and sent to a detention center. A movie was made about the story.

The book was a little too religious for my taste. Normally I like faith-based books, but I don't understand or believe in Mormonism, so maybe I was turned off by that (just being honest).

An example of the writing: "My appreciation and gratitude grew for dedicated disciples of Jesus Christ who were always willing to make time to bless my family. It was a gentle reminder that these were all evidences and expressions of love from the Savior, who is the fount of charity, mercy, kindness and long-suffering, and that it didn't really matter which vessel that power flowed through. What mattered was the source of that power - the Savior himself - and our willingness to let his light shine through us, illuminating the lives of others."

Most of the book focused on the author's forgiveness of Cameron White, the young driver, and that his ability to do so was because of his faith. Which I have no doubt it was, because how else would a person forgive another for killing four family members if not for a higher power?

Interestingly, the author was 16 when he accidentally hit a 5-year-old boy who had run into the street and died a few days later. The boy's mother wrote a comforting, forgiving letter that probably paved the way for his own forgiveness of Cameron White.

Recommend? Eh, probably not. It was just okay.
Profile Image for Verona.
544 reviews56 followers
April 25, 2015
Although this book was difficult emotionally to read, it was profound in its teachings. I feel so much more understanding of The Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ after reading Chris Williams' experiences. He truly learned first hand about the mercy and love of the Savior for every individual soul on earth through the traumatic accident he and his family endured. His courage and compassion were almost unbelievable to me considering his loss. The way he was able not only to forgive the teen drunk driver who took half his family through the accident, but he stayed in contact with him and his family. He was concerned about the eternal welfare of this young man, and that he not let this ruin his future life. I was very touched by this true story. My heart and feelings were very tender as Chris told his story and shared what he learned about forgiveness. I already had strong feelings about the need to forgive, but the principles I learned by reading this book, deepened my convictions about this subject. I want to be forgiven by Jesus Christ for my sins and shortcomings, so I want to forgive and not judge any of God's children. I need the mercy of Jesus Christ and want to show love to my fellowmen as He did.
Profile Image for Lauriej.
215 reviews1 follower
August 29, 2012
I was a little nervous reading this book not knowing how hard it might be to read about this tragic event. I remember it so clearly. The desire to read about his great example outweighed the emotional factor though. The book is written very simply and jumps a bit. That's the only reason I would give it 4 stars. The concept and teachings in it are absolutely 5 stars. I could never imagine what he went through, but he explains the teachings of the Savior so perfectly that it entered my life solidly. I remember seeing Chris and his team at the 2007 Wasatch Back and how I would've liked to tell him what a great example he was. If I had read this first, I wouldn't have hesitated to. He is very clear on whom he relies and that we are nothing without the Savior. I had seen his Mormon Message before and cried while I watched it. I just watched it again after finishing this book and sobbed like a baby.
I'm always grateful for the strength of others that I can learn from because of their trials.
Profile Image for Heidi.
115 reviews1 follower
February 4, 2017
This was a wonderful true story about a man's story of forgiveness and allow the Savior to carry his incredible burden of loss. I went through several tissues reading this and following his heartbreaking emotions and experience, but I'm grateful that he was willing to share. I feel that my testimony of the Savior and His saving Atonement have increased and a desire to be better every day continues to grow as well. I'm rating this on the emotional impact that it's left on me, although I did appreciate his writing and formatting too, especially for not having written/published anything before. He did a nice job sharing his experiences--both before, during, and after the crash--and made his reflections something I could use for later in my own trials, even if not quite as tragic or upsetting. I enjoyed reading his story and wish the best to him and his family.
Profile Image for Josie.
357 reviews12 followers
June 3, 2019
Be prepared to cry. A lot. This was such a touching story. I had heard of Chris's story from his Mormon message video and as touching as that was it leaves you wondering if it's really possible for someone to forgive that quickly and thoroughly. This takes you through his thoughts and emotions.
It also details some things in his life that prepared him for this (including an accident he experienced as a teen himself). It was just very touching. I don't know if I could do what he did and my heart really goes out to his two surviving boys and all they went through. I can't even imagine. He doesn't talk as much about them and their struggles which is understandable and I respect their privacy. I hope they are ok too.
This was a quick read and I couldn't put it down. I read it in just a couple sittings.
Profile Image for Lisa.
771 reviews51 followers
December 21, 2012
No rating for this one. My friend Linda just finished this book. She decided not to rate the book because of the tragic and personal nature of the book. I decided to follow suit and leave it unrated as well.

The author's wife, son, daughter and unborn baby died in a horrific car crash caused by a drunk driver. The author goes through a personal journey of working through the event and previous events in his life and comes to grips with forgiveness in a powerful and inspiring way. There is much to be learned from what he went through.
Profile Image for Tamra.
256 reviews3 followers
August 3, 2014
Wow! Just, WOW. A book about the healing power of forgiveness . . . I could easily forgive (no pun intended) his writing style - or lack thereof - due to the fact, HE'S NOT A WRITER but, s survivor. The one complaint I have (which probably shouldn't be coming from an active LDS gal) . . . I just decided to leave it out . . . How's that? Everyone receives spiritual guidance and help from the "Other Side of the Vail" differently and listens differently and hears differently.
I would seriously recommend this book to everyone! Just be open to having your heart changed forever.
23 reviews11 followers
October 31, 2014
To rise from such devastation as losing the majority of your family in a single instance is inspirational. To be able to forgive so quickly does not come so easily to most. I found the experience to be excruciatingly profound. I have respect for the Author for overcoming and being the better. I did, however, struggle finishing the book as I felt the same point was driven over and over again. I understand faith played a huge role with the forgiveness process, but I felt as if the point was being force-fed in every other paragraph.
Profile Image for Kara.
23 reviews
February 18, 2013
Was excited to read this book but I'm not actually glad that I did. I had a gift card to B&N and am sad i used it on this. I felt like I was reading a journal of this guys life, not a story. It didn't flow well and was kind of all over the place. It was a bit too spiritual, religious and preachy for me, and I'm even the same religion as the author. And I felt that the author was almost bragging about how easy it was for him to forgive this boy for killing his family
Profile Image for Jody Phillips.
181 reviews
March 12, 2016
Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is important if you are to comprehend this book. Otherwise it will be another sad story, but maybe not understandable or enlightening. The author's feelings and observations are real, personal, and inspirational.

My favorite line in the book:
...you can't always appreciate why you should keep moving forward until you've gone far enough to turn around and see the progress you've made.
85 reviews2 followers
May 20, 2016
This is an inspiring read. It will help any reader to confront his own life and deal with issues of forgiveness. However the experiences of Chris Williams are extremely personal and every individual must find his own way through the trials of living. Chris Williams' trials were and are exceptional but some individuals wrestle and struggle quietly with their own trials that are not as spectacular but just as difficult and trying. This is a good read but not necessarily a road map for everyone.
47 reviews
November 19, 2017
This is a heart wrenching true story about love, loss, and forgiveness. Chris Williams writes about his journey through a challenge in his life that alternated not only his families life but many others through his courage and strength to forgive.

A great documentary of this story can also be found here:
Profile Image for Kim.
39 reviews
August 7, 2012
I loved this book. I will read it again and again. I hope I never have to live through anything as horrific and life changing as this good man had to. He has inspired me to forgive and be merciful to all who have hurt me. If he can forgive the young wayward teen that killed his family in that terrible accident, then I can forgive all who ever hurt me. A quick but incredibly "worth it" READ.
Profile Image for Lisa Jennings.
3 reviews2 followers
August 16, 2012
Very well written, I couldn't put the book down. I am honored to have known Chris from previous employment and so when I read this book, I could see the genuine Chris I knew. My heart aches for the pain he has endured. It's an amazing story of forgiveness and faith, and although, we don't share the same religious beliefs, I know he was guided and inspired... it gives me hope.
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