Stephanie Neilson, and her husband Christian, spoke at BYU-Idaho back when I was a student. It was the only Thursday Forum that I remember attending, and I think I went because of a video I had seen about Stephanie a few years earlier.
After seeing the video and hearing them speak, I knew the gist of their story. In 2008, Stephanie and Christian were in a plane accident that resulted in 80% of Stephanie’s body (30% off Christian’s) being burned.
But, a few years later, I found this book at a thrift store, and I figured it might be worth adding to my library.
Heaven is Here is written in 3 parts. Life before the accident, life recovering in the hospital, and life after leaving the hospital.
While reading through the first section, I kept thinking, “Get to the crash.” I knew I was being impatient, but that’s kind of why I got the book to begin with. I wanted to know how it all went down. Literally.
And then she got to the crash.
As soon as she started talking about everything she had to deal with post-crash, I was grateful that she spent so much time describing her life before it happened. I could feel, as the reader, how much she lost.
Even though she survived, it felt almost as if the person you had read about in the first section had actually died.
Overall, I feel like Heaven is Here is an uplifting book, even though it’s written about such a devastating event. It’s inspiring to see her make the most of a situation that none of us want to go through.
Was she always upbeat about her situation? No.
There were many chapters talking about how depressed she was about all that she had to deal with. The life she knew was gone, and, for a long time, she couldn’t handle any reminder of what her life had been like before the accident. Being able to look at her children – or, more appropriately, allowing them to look at her – took months.
However, you can see her progress as she begins to accept the ways her life is now different, as well as the ways her life is still the same.
As far as the writing is concerned, the prologue is, by far, the best part.