Reviewed by Meygan
When this book first became popular and was listed as a New York Times best-selling book, I was very skeptical. The child from The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin and Alex Malarkey admitted that he lied about going to Heaven, causing the books to be immediately pulled from the shelves. (And who can be mad at him for lying about it? After all, he was child and children have the greatest imaginations of anyone.) Even though Colton Burpo, the child from Heaven is for Real, still stands by his words, I started this book with an incredulous outlook about Colton’s “experience” in Heaven.
So how did Colton go to Heaven? Todd and Sonja Burpo, Colton’s parents, decided to take a family trip to get away and on the trip, Colton becomes very ill. His parents take him to a hospital, where doctors tell them while Colton is very sick, they do not know why. He is then sent to another hospital where Colton is told that his appendix has ruptured. The doctors quickly rush Colton to surgery, which sends Todd, who is also a pastor, in a fit of devastation and rage. He asks God after all he has gone through, why would he add anything else to his plate, especially since Colton is his child. But thankfully, Colton survives the surgery. Throughout time, Colton begins to talk to his father about his surgery and how he went to Heaven. His father, feeling perplexed, asks Colton how he could have gone to Heaven if he didn’t die in which Colton shrugs and responds, “Then I guess I died.”
Colton also describes what Heaven looks like and how God answered his father’s prayers whenever Colton was having surgery. Todd Burpo, at first wondering if Colton’s imagination is running wild, soon believes that his son really did see Heaven, especially after Colton tells Todd that he saw his grandfather (Todd’s father) in Heaven. Although Colton had never met his grandfather, he knew exactly who he was in Heaven. When Todd shows Colton a picture of his father when he is an older man, Colton tells him that there aren’t any old people in Heaven. Then Colton is shown a group family picture, which he is not told that his grandpa (although much younger than in the original picture Colton was shown), is in the photograph. However, Colton immediately points to his grandfather and clarifies that, yes, he is the man he met in Heaven.
There are many arguments over this book. People can’t believe that someone can claim that they saw Heaven while others can’t believe how someone couldn’t believe the remarkable story of a toddler who indeed visited Heaven during his surgery. Regardless if the story is true, I liked the book. I liked the way the story was written and even if the story isn’t real, it sure did make for a great story. The family got a lot of flak for writing this book, but I thought the book did a good job with keeping the family “real”. I liked how the dad admitted that although he is a man of God, there were moments where he struggled with what to do. I never felt that Todd was trying to exploit his son for fame or money. I feel that the Burpo family truly believes their son. Again, I am as skeptical now as I was before reading the book, but who am I to tell someone what they did or didn’t see? All I know is that I recommended Heaven is for Real.