Heaven is Here is not the type of book I usually read. I rarely read memoirs, especially ones that chronicle triumph over hardship. However, I’ve been following Stephanie Nielson’s story ever since she and her husband Christian were horribly burned in an airplane crash in August of 2008. At the time they were living in Mesa, Arizona and the crash happened in St. Johns, Arizona so there was lots of media coverage of the accident in my area . I’ve been reading Stephanie’s blog recently to get updates on how she and her husband are doing and how their family is growing and healing. So, of course, I had to read the book to hear Stephanie’s account of this incredibly challenging time in her life.
Before the accident the Nielson’s were a happy and dynamic family with 4 little children. Stephanie chronicled their adventures on her popular blog and was much admired for being devoted to her life as a wife and mother. During the crash Stephanie was burned over 80% of her body, including her face, and was in a medically induced coma for three months afterwards. She nearly died several times and suffered agonizing pain through her recovery. But by far the hardest challenge for her to endure was the alteration in her appearance due to the burns on her face. It was 5 months before she had the courage to look at herself in the mirror and two of her children were so confused by the change in her looks that they would not approach her. Completely heartbreaking.
Though faced with much adversity, Stephanie, with the help of friends, family and incredible doctors, has regained her health and is now living the life of her dreams. She even just had a new baby in April, little Charlotte, who is adorable! I was very inspired by reading her story, but Heaven is Here may not be for everyone. Stephanie is strongly religious and credits her Mormon faith, which she refers to often, with helping her to face her trials so if you are squeamish about these things I would not recommend this book to you.
Another inspirational memoir I really like is A Pearl in the Storm by Tori Murden McClure. What are your favorite inspirational memoirs?