Storytelling in a Non-Fiction Book
The Afterlife of Billy Fingers by Annie Kagan is a wonderful book. I give it five stars. One of the Amazon reviewers said she read the 191 page book in 90 minutes. It took me about three hours. I had to stop often to wipe away the tears. The book was an emotional and spiritual roller-coaster. Thank you, Annie for that superb and captivating storytelling in a non-fiction book.
Messages From the Spirit World
The book extends three challenges to its readers: First, is it fiction or fact? Annie didn’t have to expend a great deal of effort and energy to persuade me it really happened. I was convinced right away by the down-to-earth, day-to-day events of Annie’s life as she dealt with the loss of her older brother Billy to a tragic accident. I have no doubt Billy came to her to share his transition.
Traditional Heaven and Hell Missing
Second, you will need to re-examine what you know about the after-life, especially if you have accepted traditional heaven-and-hell teachings so prevalent in this world. Billy describes what he goes through in a much-needed healing process, then the oft-mentioned life review. He becomes one with the universe, then back to a being of light and, at the end of the book, describes his final dissolution.
Different Paths in the After-Life
And there’s the third challenge: What happened to Billy in the end is not what I expect or want for me. I suppose this is a spoiler alert, but again this is not fiction so maybe that doesn’t apply. I was saddened by what Billy passed through on his journey as Annie described it in part three of the book. I’m not questioning that it really happened, only that may not be the path for everyone.
Many Mansions of God Prepared
Annie / Billy make reference early in the book to what Billy entitled the “Supra World.” It immediately caused me to think of the words of the Savior, “In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go and prepare a place for you.” Billy very rarely described being with other people in the after-life. Perhaps that’s as he desired it or what was best for him.
Multiple Degrees of Glory
For LDS folks, some may be asking themselves, was Annie deceived by a false spirit? You’ll have to read the book to decide for yourself. As I’ve already shared, I believe Annie’s story and what she learned from Billy. I’ve been a believing Mormon all my life which includes faith in the revelations received by Joseph Smith. In D&C 76 we learn of the Three Degrees of Glory.
We Are Gods and Goddesses
In her bio, Annie describes her interest in and practice of Eastern spiritual traditions. Meditation and Yoga have brought peace to her life. There are references in the final chapters of the book to chakras, Sanscrit – the sacred language of ancient India – and Billy’s encounter with Shvara Lohana. Annie asks, “Was she his personal God or was she God? Is God actually a goddess?”
No Resurrection for Billy – Yet
I wonder if Billy completed his journey or if there was more to be experienced. There is never any mention of resurrection, something most Christians, including Mormons believe in and to which we look forward. It is my desire to have a glorified and exalted body at some point after the resurrection. We are taught and I believe our resurrected state depends on our life’s choices.
No Judgment – More to Come
Which brings up another point – Billy does not pass through a judgment. Again, I suspect Billy has not completed his journey. He was only allowed to share with Annie what would help her deal with her grief and, at the same time, share with the world some of the things through which he passed. Some people don’t believe in a judgment and resurrection. That’s just fine with me.
A Journey Not Yet Complete
I loved the book and highly recommend it, but for my LDS friends, I suggest you’ve got to be open-minded about it. If you accept the idea that Billy was describing only a portion of his journey you’ll be OK. Don’t get wrapped up about how Billy’s experience does not match what we ultimately believe about the after-life, especially with our focus on the eternal family unit.
Find the Good in Everything
There are so many amazing quotes in the book which I find uplifting and encouraging. There is a Facebook group which shares them on an almost daily basis. There is much truth in the book. In fact, I’m not going to say there are any false ideas, both out of respect to Annie and because if there’s one thing I know about the afterlife, it’s that I know very little, but look forward to it.
An Emotional and Spiritual Experience
Thank you, Annie for sharing Billy’s story. Thank you for your courage in publishing it to the world. I’m pleased to see most of the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are favorable. It is a well-received book from everything I have seen. Congratulations on your success. I feel blessed for the experience I’ll always remember of reading The Afterlife of Billy Fingers. God bless.