On the Backlist: Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielson

Stephanie Nielson led what some might call a charmed life. She had a happy marriage, a few little ones around the house, and lots of little things that filled her days with joy.

And then she got on a plane.

In August, 2008, Stephanie and her husband, Christian, were in a terrible plane crash that nearly killed Stephanie, and left her with burns over 80 percent of her body. Christian was also badly burned, but Stephanie was the one to spend months in a coma, and still more time in hospital beds, rehabilitation, and recovery. More difficult, still, were her mental and emotional battles. Stephanie had to come to terms with her new life, and how she would face the near-insurmountable changes ahead of her. Physically and emotionally scarred, alone with her thoughts for much of each day, Stephanie found herself with little to rely on, except her faith.

Heaven is Here might easily have become morose, depressing, or filled with self-pity. While Nielson definitely had her moments battling such feelings (and I love that she didn’t leave them out or whitewash her experience), the book is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit in the face of powerful adversity. She recounts her experiences in recovery, but also shares stories from before the accident, and gives all sorts of details about her family and friends and the love and support they share. It’s truly fascinating.

The entire book is inspiring, and I found myself in tears on several occasions. Nielson’s writing is filled with hope and strength and infused with the beauty and joy she finds all around her. If you’ve ever read her blog, NieNie Dialogues, then you’ve had a tiny glimpse of what you’re in for, here. The book is harder-hitting, though, and more raw, in places. I find that that honest quality makes Stephanie’s story all the more beautiful.


4.5 Stars

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