"No man can be called friendless who has God and the companionship of good books."
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

To Heaven and Back by Dr. Mary C. Neal

When I agreed to review this book I was hoping for a bit more information on Dr. Neal's time spent in Heaven and a bit more about the extent of her injuries at the time of the accident. For example, Dr. Neal claims to have "died" but there is no information to support the idea that she experienced true physical, clinical death. This book is more of a short biography of Dr. Neal's life than it is specifically about her near death experience. While her brief discussions of the various times she felt God's presence in her life were interesting and somewhat inspiring, I would've liked to have seen a bit more detail in those discussions and I certainly would've like to have seen more detail in her discussion of her time spent, as she believes, in Heaven. Also, while I don't doubt that Dr. Neal has had a very powerful and life-changing experience, based on what I read in the book, I am a bit skeptical that this was more a case of misidentification than miraculous journey. When she does talk about her experience she describes being in a state of true physical shock, slipping in and out of consciousness (not being actually dead), and still experiencing very similar things to what she apparently experienced while she was trapped in the river. I can't help but feel that her case was less an actual experience of life after death and more an experience of hallucinations during extreme physical stress, shock and loss of oxygen. I do believe that many of the after-life experiences reported by those who experienced them are genuine, I just can't say the same with any amount of confidence for Dr. Neal's case. I enjoyed the openness with which she discussed the lose of her son and her family's struggle to come to terms with his death which is a story I can relate to on a personal level, although I lost my son much earlier in life than she lost her's, much of the story still resonated. However, after awhile the overall feel of the book began to become a little tedious and it was difficult to see it through to the end. All in all, I gave it three stars for effort. I feel this book, even with the doubt of the reality of her experiences, would've been a four or five star read if it was a less a biography and more about her accident, time in heaven, conversations, and then about her directives.

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