Rated Reads

Heaven Is Here

by Stephanie Nielson

Rated: None

Honestly, I don’t often wade into these types of books. I do enjoy the occasional memoir or biography, but I don’t read a lot of just honest-to-goodness inspirational stories. I actually was motivated to read this because I wanted to see what Nielson could impart about the topic of self-image, something I’ve been researching. I thought it would be interesting to see what she had to say about how she felt about her appearance after being burned over 80 percent of her body.

But I was definitely drawn in to this story and couldn’t help but be tremendously inspired by her strong and simple faith even as it was tested by extreme circumstances. It’s definitely difficult to feel too bad about one’s own sometimes challenging circumstances (and we all have them) when reading what she had to go through: a fiery plane crash, months and months of terrible pain, debilitation, nightmares, fear about not being able to ever live a normal life again, separation from her children for the long months she was in the hospital and worry and guilt that she’d burdened them, and the knowledge that she’d be disfigured for the rest of her life.

Nielson starts telling readers about her honestly idyllic life growing up in a large and very happy family in Utah and her pretty much fairy-tale courtship and marriage to Christian, whom she often refers to as “Mr. Nielson” in her popular blog. It was all so perfect and sweet (and kind of stereotypical “Utah Mormon-ish”) that it kind of made me want to gag a little, frankly. I would have put the book down had I not known what was coming. It’s a good thing I held on because it became much more interesting and “real” and “raw” after the crash. It’s clear that without that amazing family support system, her unconditionally loving and giving husband, and her foundation of faith, Nielson would not have survived. One hates to throw around the term “miracle” too often, but she really did experience them.

I did appreciate that she was honest about so many things that many readers would wonder about. She talked, of course, about the tremendous challenge it was to even look at herself in a mirror and how it has felt for strangers to stare. Her own children had varying degrees of difficulty adjusting to her new appearance. Christian himself had been injured and scarred in the accident, but not quite as badly as she was, so even though he understood where she was coming from, she still had so many concerns about being around him after she woke from her coma and honestly said she expected they would never have a true marriage again, including intimacy. But time and effort and healing did take her to a place where she found joy again, in her life with her children and her relationship with her husband.

A beautiful book.

Rated: None. As expected, honestly. There is one use of mild language.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

One Response to Heaven Is Here

  1. […] So it was a little unusual for me to decide to read popular blogger Stephanie Nielson’s Heaven Is Here. And the main reason I did read it is I wanted to include it as part of my overall research into […]

  • Heaven Is Here
  • by Stephanie Nielson
  • Rated: None
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Reviewer: