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Heaven Is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy

by Stephanie Nielson

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17640114,565 (4.1)6
A poignant and inspirational memoir that chronicles Stephanie Nielson's life before and after the horrific plane crash that changed her path forever.



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I really don't know how anyone could fail to be inspired by Stephanie's story. Just be warned: have a box of Kleenex handy.

4.5 stars. ( )
  fefferbooks | May 12, 2014 |
This book is split into three parts. The first takes place before the Nielsons' accident, the second starts after the accident, and the third starts after Stephanie comes home from the hospital.

The first part is important in terms of setting up the story, especially in terms of establishing the life that Stephanie had before her accident. However, that part of the story can also come off as a little annoying, since it's basically a recitation of how great her life was and how she more or less had everything that she had ever wanted (perfect husband, perfect cute house, lots of perfect children). I honestly found myself flipping forward in the book quite a few times while I was reading the first part.

As soon as the second part starts, the book becomes very compelling. Stephanie's struggle to come to grips with her accident, her road to recovery and her new body is heartbreaking, especially since every challenge that she faces seems to fracture into a dozen different challenges. (E.g., for months, her goal is to recover enough that she can leave the hospital and be home with her children. However, when she finally goes home, one of her daughters is so upset by her changed appearance that she won't look her in the eye, and her toddler sobs at night for his mommy because he thinks that Stephanie's sister, who has been taking care of him for six months, is is real mother.)

This is a compelling, well-written book and my standard rating for such a book would be 4/5 stars. (I reserve higher ratings for books I have read multiple times.) However, I found that I couldn't give it such a high rating, for reasons that I couldn't quite identify at first.

Here's what I finally decided: If you think that Stephanie Nielson's life was perfect before her accident, you will find this book very compelling and inspiring. If, however, you idealize a different sort of life, you may find this book frustrating. Although Stephanie overcomes great physical, mental, and emotional challenges in this story, she has a blind spot when it comes to understanding people with different values or perspectives and meeting them on their own terms, and that's not something that changes throughout this particular journey. So, while I enjoyed this book, it may not be for everyone. ( )
  Katya0133 | Oct 25, 2013 |
(199) ( )
  activelearning | Dec 23, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Heaven is Here is a very inspiring story and I loved reading how she overcame all the obstacles in her life. However, I cannot help but keep remembering a statement she made when moving to New Jesery. I got the feeling she was unhappy over the Madonna statues in yards. I guess that just sort of really offended me, but I continued reading the book and cheering her on as she progressed through her recovery. I am really surprised her editor allowed the statement against the statues as that is a strong part of many peoples faith. This good story was really overshadowed by this comment to me.
  bgherman | Aug 18, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm going to write this review as I read this book. I am close to not wanting to continue reading it because so far I am rolling my eyes at the incredibly saccharine sweet picture that the author is painting (so far- I obviously am aware that things will change) I'm very bothered by the religious aspect of her life. I sometimes feel that people who 'consult' with God just want certain things to happen, and then call it God's will. This woman is a devout Mormon. Why are these (Mormon) families often so large? I understand that in the old days, people had children to help run their farms -to survive. But now- the world is so over-populated (ps: I'm no granola eating, hippie type, either-not that there's anything wrong with that)- isn't it wrong to bring so many (9, 10, 11!) kids into the world because you feel like it? There is a narcissistic bent to this ('We are such great people! Let us crank out as many carbon-copies of ourselves that we can') Meanwhile, the earth's resources are being diminished! And no one can say anything because it's 'religious'. But I just did.

The author describes her self (un-self-consciously) as a picture-perfect human being. Her husband is also so perfect (the 'typical day' she describes sounds like something you'd read in a Danielle Steele book -before the 'trouble' happens!) The kids are -surprise!- perfect as well. The dating, the wedding, the meeting of the (hundreds) of relatives- there's not a negative connection in the bunch! Everything is PERFECT! And 'perfect' I am thoroughly convinced- is impossible! And trying to sell people on the idea of your 'perfect life' only makes (impressionable) people feel 'less than.' I just don't buy it from the get-go.

The author also gets to me when she becomes so obsessed with NOT getting educated.Because the MEN of your religion don't approve? Ninja, please! Why would going to college be a bad thing? Who doesn't want to be smarter? Is this what she will teach her daughters? I hate this submissive attitude, and quite frankly, it's another aspect making me want to ditch this book. *sigh*

I've now completed the book. I feel sad that anyone had to go through such a harrowing experience. I was very disturbed when her husband said 'I thought you were right behind me' when he fled the plane and ran across the street. It gave me a bad feeling, but maybe I misunderstood what he was saying and what I think he did. The implications though- did he leave her there? Freaked me out. I don't know how hard it must have been to be disfigured-not just the physical pain, but because she was so proud of her looks, and put a lot of pictures in the book. I felt terrible for her, and the pain just seemed unbearable. And scary, claustrophobic and lonely. Also: how will this guy-her husband, handle having a less beautiful wife?

I do think she was very lucky in the fact that she already had 'fans' from her blog and I found it interesting when she wondered if she somehow deserved bad things because she bragged about her perfect life online. Of course she did not deserve anything bad, and nor do I believe there is anybody watching (and judging) our lives- other than us, there's no guy in the sky causing bad things....but I like that she at least acknowledged that she bragged- as I pointed out in the first paragraph of this review. The only belief I am really unwavering about is NOT BRAGGING. I feel like it is a form of anger, or passive-aggressive, adult 'na-na-na-na-na' - like kids used to use to taunt each other on the playground. I know we are supposed to want people to envy us (or so it seems?), but I never want to make anyone feel lesser if I can help it. And this is why the beginning of the book turned me off.

As for the 'God Stuff' - what can I say? I don't believe in fairy tales, and I don't believe in Grandmothers meeting us in fields to discuss whether or not I should 'choose to go back to earth'. First off-if heaven is so great- why is everyone 'up there' hyper-focused on Earth?? Is that the most narcissistic belief? That WE are the center of everything? If you believed in heaven, wouldn't you rather your relatives and friends moved on, and had more to do than pine for everyone still here? Don't they have other things to do, and if they don't- why are we glad if we think our people are there? Reason number two: The implication that she 'decided' to come back means everyone I've known in my life who have died-from teenagers to grandparents- all DECIDED to not come back? Was it something I said? (I know Mormons probably have a 'special pass' that comes with the option to choose, but I'm pretty sure my teenage friends in bad car accidents would have chosen life as well, had they been given that option!) Again: there is such a narcissistic bent to super-religious people. And lastly, about religion: Nice that only the MEN have any power in the Mormon religion. Way to respect the women. And why is it that God is credited with everything good, but never blamed for anything bad? These thoughts flood my mind when I'm reading about religious people.

Nie Nie was unlucky to be in a plane crash, but very lucky to have so much support. Thousands of e-mails and cards, balloons everywhere, donations, a house, Matt Lauer and the Today Show, the Oprah show.....she says she couldn't have done it without the support- and my heart immediately went out to the thousands of burn victims who don't have that kind of massive support. Yet- I'm sure they feel they are 'special' too.But no one in the world gathers to tell them they are right. So by Nie Nie's logic: that's probably why a lot of them don't make it. Just not popular enough. It's obviously best to be favored.

Overall, it's a good book. It gave me insights- some good- most bad- into the Mormon way of life. So, it's definitely timely what with the Obama/Romney deal.I wish Nie Nie the best in her life, and mostly- I'm happy that SHE'S happy believing what she does. I think that Mormon men are wise to keep their women from becoming more educated, because knowledge brings questions, and it could really shake up some of the the powers that be in that religion. One thing about Nie-Nie- she takes what she's been told and never, ever questions it. But different beliefs are what makes the world go around- and it was interesting to walk in her shoes for a little while. But I'm also really, really, really! glad to be back in mine. ( )
1 vote Litgirl7 | Aug 8, 2012 |
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A poignant and inspirational memoir that chronicles Stephanie Nielson's life before and after the horrific plane crash that changed her path forever.

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