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Book Review: I Can Only Imagine

I Can Only Imagine: A Memoir (5 star review)

I Can Only Imagine:
A Memoir

written by Bart Millard

224 pages // published in 2018 // Inspirational Christian memoir


The captivating story behind the bestselling single in the history of Christian music—and the man who wrote it.

MercyMe’s crossover hit, “I Can Only Imagine,” has touched millions of people around the world. But few know about the pain, redemption, and healing that inspired it. Now Bart Millard, award-winning recording artist and lead singer of MercyMe, shares how his dad’s transformation from abusive father to man of God sparked a divine moment in music history.

Go behind the scenes of Bart’s life—and the movie based on it—to discover how God repaired a broken family, prepared Bart for ministry through music, and wrote the words on his heart that would change his life forever. I Can Only Imagine is a front-row seat to witnessing God’s presence throughout Bart’s life. Whether falling in love with his childhood sweetheart or mourning his father’s death, founding MercyMe or flailing in the midst of its success, Bart continues to place his trust in God’s plans—plans that continue to surprise and surpass what Bart could have ever imagined.

My Review

5 Star Rating

Bart Millard shares his incredible story, telling about how he penned one of the most touching modern songs – and penned it in ten minutes, in fact. But, of course, as singer Amy Grant tells him, “Bart, you didn't write that song in ten minutes. It took a lifetime.” – very true words. And this books fully tells that story of his...

“Music gave me hope when I felt hopeless. Love when I felt unloved. A reason to embrace life when I was dying inside.”

If you've already enjoyed watching the new film “I Can Only Imagine”, or are looking forward to watching it – maybe it's time to read the book. Written by MercyMe's lead singer and writer of the chart-topping song “I Can Only Imagine”. The book explores more of Bart's life in further detail, than the movie allows. And written quite well, if I may say so (and it's so quotable too! Some of my favorite quotes are included in this review). If you're a fan at all, I'd recommend enjoying both the book AND movie – but in the order of your choice.

Let's discuss the story a bit. Bart tells of his childhood in depth, of his father who turned abusive after an accident (Bart specifically says “It was like a Jekyll-and-Hyde story), and how as a young boy growing up in that household, Bart had to turn to his imagination for means of escape. Music became his passion in life.

“But through all that noise in my life, whenever I heard a perfect union of melody and lyric in a song, something traveled from my ears to my heart and made me feel alive.”

Now, if it hadn't been for his Mammaw Millard, there'd be no MercyMe, and there'd be no “I Can Only Imagine”. This woman is the heroine of several important chapters in Bart's life, and a mighty lady she is.

In the latter half of 2001, the song “I Can Only Imagine” hit the radio – everyone was listening to it (Christian and non-Christian alike) – and it topped the charts and broke records.

“No one can write better scripts than God.”

I loved the book – Bart shares so much of his life on these pages – some of it is laugh-out-loud funny, and some of it completely serious stuff. He tells all about how the band MercyMe formed, and about how sometimes... things just lined up so well, it could have only been done by the hand of God. He shares some deeply personal things about his family, and opens up tale after amusing tale to us, his fans. I gained strength and inspiration just from hearing about his successes, failures, and other experiences.

I definitely recommend this to anyone interested. It should be passed through the churches to give everyone the opportunity to read it for yourself.

“While I am here on earth, I am both a work in progress and already made whole because of the cross. I am a child of the risen King who will wrestle with the flesh. I'll win some and lose some, but it can never change how Christ sees me because the cross was enough!”

Available on Amazon in paperback, ebook format, audio download format, and audio CD format
starting at $9.99.

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  1. OH, fun! I've heard good things about the movie, but didn't know it was a book, too!

    1. Michele,
      I know! Not everyone realizes there is an accompanying book. Plus, the book has loads more details that they couldn't squeeze into the movie.

  2. Hi Tarissa, I only knew about the film, too & it’s all been very positive. Funny, we were in the car on the weekend & my husband had the song from the movie playing just before I read your review 🙂

  3. sounds cool