Room of Marvels: A Story About Heaven that Heals the Heart

by James Bryan Smith

Room of Marvels book cover

Three deaths in three years. His mother. His best friend. And now, his two-year-old daughter. 

In this moving story a Christian author goes to a retreat center to grieve and face the hard questions about God that he is asking in the wake of these losses.

If you have ever felt alone, betrayed, abandoned—if you have found yourself asking God why—this novel may be a source of hope. And if you have ever wondered what heaven is like, this book provides a beautiful vision. Room of Marvels is a masterful, dream-like tale that speaks to the eternal in the midst of our most painful earthly losses.

This expanded edition of the beloved book has a new afterword from James Bryan Smith and a discussion guide for group use.

Finding your room of marvels will give you reason to live. Again.

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My prevailing thought is, I hope this is true. Jim has written a brave book—one that was so honest at times I felt uncomfortable reading it. But that honesty exposes James as being like the rest of us: at times riddled with fear and anger, sin and sadness, but most importantly full of the holy hope of finally going Home. Whatever we imagine heaven to be—and Jim’s imagination has run wild in the best way possible—our imaginings won’t hold a candle to the grand adventure that awaits us. I challenge anyone to read this book without feeling their stomach flutter with the hope that heaven is as real as it is in our best dreams.

Andrew Peterson


Takes us on a marvelous Christian journey, freighted with broad humor and biblical wisdom. This book helps me to remember that the spiritual realm is more real than any other.

Emilie Griffin

author of Doors into Prayer

Good stories can heal our hearts, but great stories can heal how we see. Room of Marvels is a great story, a story that opened the eyes of my own heart. Once again, James Bryan Smith has helped us see the staggering depth to which God knows and loves us and the length to which he goes to show us that love. Even more, he shows us that the God who looks like Jesus goes out of his way to meet us in our moments of unexplainable pain, then teaches us to play and laugh and love like little children. Make sure you read this one!

Michael John Cusick

author of Surfing for God and CEO at Restoring the Soul

In the tradition of C. S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce, James Bryan Smith casts an imaginative vision of heaven, where no loss is unnoticed and no pain unredeemed. Room of Marvels is an invitation to ponder the particularity of God’s generous and loving attentiveness to us, not only in our grief but in the sacredly ordinary details of our lives. I’m grateful for Jim’s courage in weaving his own journey toward comfort and hope into a tale that reminds us that ‘no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.’

Sharon Garlough Brown

author of the Sensible Shoes and Shades of Light series

Really good fiction is at its best when it helps those of us who read it to tell our stories more truly, in all of their grandeur and pathos, in all their joy and suffering, in all their nobility and brokenness. But mostly, it helps us tell them against the backdrop of hope. And with Room of Marvels, hope is what James Bryan Smith brings in the ways we most desperately need it. Read it and laugh. Read it and weep. But above all, read it—and hope in the confidence that heaven is real, and it is surely coming.

Curt Thompson, MD

author of The Soul of Shame and Anatomy of the Soul

C. S. Lewis spoke of the true myth being a story that embraced a very real, universal, and eternal truth in its core. This is such a story, a heartfelt reality lived out by the author. Jim shares his struggle, his pain, his healing, and his finding joy. We are invited to journey along and learn of the amazing, loving grace of God. Reading this for me was being enfolded in the embrace of the Father. May it be for you as well.

Rick Lewis
spiritual director and owner/ manager of Logos Bookstore in Dallas, Texas
Paperback, 192 pages
Published November 03, 2020 by IVP
ISBN: 978-0-8308-4688-7