Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

When Colton Burpo made it through an emergency appendectomy, his family was overjoyed at his miraculous survival. What they weren't expecting, though, was the story that emerged in the months that followed--a story as beautiful as it was extraordinary, detailing their little boy's trip to heaven and back.Colton, not yet four years old, told his parents he left his body dur...

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Title:Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back
Author:Todd Burpo
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Edition Language:English

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back Reviews

  • Natasha

    I am already on the 11th chapter -

    I am just get chills when I read this book. Last night, I spent time reading comments from Goodreads. I was shocked of all the one stars and negative comments. These are the topics that kept coming up. I just have to vent about it...

    1.)

    - That the parents waited to long to take him to the doctor.Well, they did take him to the doctor. The doctor told them no thing was wrong expect a stomach virus. This can reoccur plus when the si

    I am already on the 11th chapter -

    I am just get chills when I read this book. Last night, I spent time reading comments from Goodreads. I was shocked of all the one stars and negative comments. These are the topics that kept coming up. I just have to vent about it...

    1.)

    - That the parents waited to long to take him to the doctor.Well, they did take him to the doctor. The doctor told them no thing was wrong expect a stomach virus. This can reoccur plus when the sister got sick it just made sense.

    - Being a parent - I put ( or did ) trust into the doctors. I know how it is to feel helpless and not knowing what is 100% correct with a sick kid. I feel they did what they thought was right. It can be confusing when it comes to sick kids.

    2.)

    - The boy knew what to say because his dad is a Pastor and he grew up with all the imagery and around Christians. The way it comes across to me is .. HE IS 3 YRS OLD at the time this happen. It was so branded in his mind - he still remembers till this day! and How can they explain how he saw his dad crying in the room and mom praying on the phone?

    I am sorry - if my 3/4 year old son told me this in such conviction - I would believe him 100%. I feel this boy is innocent - he did not make up stories just because he knows who Jesus is and Heaven. He went into detail about what Jesus was wearing and etc. in so much detail - that the dad could actually pull out Bible Scriptures relating to it.

    3.)

    Comments were left also about how the book was too preachy and how he makes it come across that the only way to Heaven is through knowing Jesus. Well- my opinion - there is nothing wrong with TOO PREACHY. This book was written, I believe, as a witness tool. This may have happened to this boy, so his dad could write a book. God wants everyone saved - I think the Pastors job is DONE if only ONE person gets saved. JUST ONE!

    As for the only way to Heaven - I am not going to get into debate about theology. But I will say this - this book goes by the Bible - and YES, the only way to Heaven is through the relationship of Jesus. Period.

    4.

    I see some people just slamming this book without reading it. These "people" are leaving remarks about how we shouldn't believe there is a man sitting on the clouds. I know some people just like to spread their opinion but don't slam it just because it is about Heaven or Jesus or God.

    I am continuing to read this book - I should finish by the end of the week. I am so full of joy and I can't wait to go to HEAVEN.

    ---------

    I just finished this book late last night -- All I can say is I can't wait to go to Heaven to meet Jesus.

  • Laurie

    My best friend in the world is battling stage 4 cancer. She wanted me to read it so of course I did. After finishing it I just can't review this book. Who am I to know if this Colton experienced "heaven" or not? I am no one to judge how well a miracle is written. It will forever be a mystery of faith.

    I'm rating this 5 stars for the comfort it gave my best friend. There must be something to it if it put a smile on her face while she's dealing with this huge battle. She's not on goodreads but thi

    My best friend in the world is battling stage 4 cancer. She wanted me to read it so of course I did. After finishing it I just can't review this book. Who am I to know if this Colton experienced "heaven" or not? I am no one to judge how well a miracle is written. It will forever be a mystery of faith.

    I'm rating this 5 stars for the comfort it gave my best friend. There must be something to it if it put a smile on her face while she's dealing with this huge battle. She's not on goodreads but this is for Shannon.

    Bad news. :( My best friend passed away from the cancer 10/21/13. Now I intend to buy this book in her memory. There aren't words enough to describe the love I have in my heart for her. I will miss you, Shannon...forever. xoxoxo

  • Dawn

    I'm not sure how I feel about this book. When I lost my son last year, I got a lot of the "he's in heaven now, and you'll be with him again some day" comments. And I wanted to believe, I really did.. But I've always had a problem with faith. It would be so much easier for me to accept losing him, if I could truly have faith in him being safe and happy in a better place. But it's a hard thing to believe... Try though I might.

    Several people in a Compassionate Friends support meeting recommended th

    I'm not sure how I feel about this book. When I lost my son last year, I got a lot of the "he's in heaven now, and you'll be with him again some day" comments. And I wanted to believe, I really did.. But I've always had a problem with faith. It would be so much easier for me to accept losing him, if I could truly have faith in him being safe and happy in a better place. But it's a hard thing to believe... Try though I might.

    Several people in a Compassionate Friends support meeting recommended this book to me, and said it might help me find some faith.. Might make it a little easier for me really believe that my son is in a better place. So I read it.. And I'm not sure what I feel.

    First of all, I'm not quite sure that this is a book that a parent who lost a young child should read. It tells the story of a family that almost loses a young child, and that alone triggered a lot of emotions. Longing for my son.. Sadness at his loss.. And jealousy. Because this family

    lost a son, while I did lose my son.

    There's a line near the end, that really upset me...

    I read this and I think...

    , you are blessed. You watched your son

    die. But you have him with you now, he's growing up and is healthy and happy. You are blessed beyond belief.

    While it did give me a lot to ponder.. It also did wonders for the guilt I feel because of my loss and the circumstances surrounding it. And I mean that in a not so good way.. It goes on and on about how they prayed and prayed, and God granted them their wish, God let them keep their son. I didn't pray, because I had no faith, I didn't believe, or at the least I didn't care. I saw no need to, I didn't know he could be taken from me. Is my son gone because of my lack of prayer? Because of my lack of belief? Because I didn't appreciate his mortality? If I had prayed the right prayer, could I have saved him? Was I not a good enough person to save him? I know these questions are silly in a way. Scratch that, I know they are silly in every way. But reading this story brought the questions repeatedly into my mind, it wasn't something I could help.

    And the questions, of course, don't stop there.. Beyond those questions, were the questions that those questions inevitably led to. If the answer to those questions is yes... And it's my fault because I lacked faith.. The question isn't "Why me?" it's "Why my son?" Why did he have to be punished for my wrongs and for my lack of faith? But like I said... These sort of thoughts aren't new to me. These are questions I deal with every day, and eventually hope to work through. Reading this story just amplified them for a short period of time.

    For that reason, I definitely wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who has lost a young child and is still dealing with the grief and guilt associated with that loss. Beyond that.. I need time to think about this story, to process it, discuss it, research it. I want to believe.. I want to make the right choices so I can be with my son again one day, if that's a possibility. But to make the right choices, and to believe.. I have to do it right. I have to find real faith, not conditional faith (faith based on the condition that I'll get to be with my son). It's not something that can happen over night.. But I hope one day to find peace.

    With that, I'll end this review. It's been a revealing one, and I'm hesitant to post it. But... It's a part of who I am now. I have to embrace it or hide it.. And I won't hide Lucas.

  • Miranda Reads

    As a true memoir

    As a novel -

    There's two ways to go about this review. Either 1) discuss the

    and connotations or 2) discuss the

    .

    I will be going about route 2 - therefore I won't be getting into the whole did-it-really-happen sort of or how-this-affected-my-personal-beliefs. (Note: As a rule, I don't like it when such events are

    (books, movies, merch, etc) - it just r

    As a true memoir

    As a novel -

    There's two ways to go about this review. Either 1) discuss the

    and connotations or 2) discuss the

    .

    I will be going about route 2 - therefore I won't be getting into the whole did-it-really-happen sort of or how-this-affected-my-personal-beliefs. (Note: As a rule, I don't like it when such events are

    (books, movies, merch, etc) - it just rubs me the wrong way.)

    Therefore, I am

    Please keep that in mind when reading my critiques.

    Most notably, the plot was just a pile of

    .

    but it also didn't stand out.

    I read this book a few years ago but remembered next to nothing. I have a feeling in another few months,

    Three-year-old

    for a 5-day-old ruptured appendix. Months after a rather risky surgery, Colton starts saying some

    (ranging from rainbow ponies to crying about a miscarried sister he never met).

    Colton says something amazing, his father marvels, his father finds references in the bible, marvels again and they move on.

    His father (a preacher) maintains that most of Colton's

    and over the course of several years.

    The fact that most of these moments come months, if not years, after the initial surgery, really

    You can't remember if you don't like broccoli but your parents say you did last time so you try eating it again (and are disappointed again).

    You can't tell the

    until you are around 5(ish) (according to a cursory google). Yet, plot hinges on the kid remembering a long, complicated series of events from when he was three.

    His father also firmly maintained that most of the things Colton said are things that he had no way of knowing.

    Judging this as a novel...I have to say that most of these crazy-amazing-things Colton said seemed like

    - if not from his parents then from others in the parish.

    Is it really so unexpected that some well-meaning parishioner didn't describe what heaven was like to the pastor's son? Or that Colton may have overheard two old ladies gossiping about his mother's miscarriage?

    And while his father constantly maintains that the kid could not have known x, y, and z religious concepts. I kept wanting to say,

    Then there was the

    Young Colton was like all six of Anne (Of Green Gables)'s children rolled into one.

    Everything the child did was adorably religious - from

    (Jesus wouldn't like that) to

    (Colton needed to know whether the dead man had Jesus in his heart).

    I just couldn't get into the style of writing and the way the characters were portrayed. All I can say is thank goodness they had the based-on-a-true-story angle otherwise this book would've tanked.

    I cannot emphasize this enough. I have listened to many, many audiobooks but this one grated my nerves the most. I knocked off an extra star because listening to it

    The narrator (Dean Gallagher) did an okay job narrating from the dad's perspective - his voice had decent tone and inflection.

    All hell broke loose when the narrator attempted Colton's voice. Every time 3-year-old Colton "spoke," I cringed.

    There is something so, so wrong about a

    .

    His voice went high, breathy and had the grating-on-your nerves whine to it - especially when he said Mommy and Daddy.

    And Colton says Mommy and Daddy a lot.

    To the point where every time the narrator wailed "Mommmmeeeee" I wanted to turn off the audiobook.

    After all the hundreds of thousands this family made from this book (and related paraphernalia), they seriously couldn't spring for a child actor? Or someone other than a old man to represent their child?

    |

    |

  • Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*

    Oh Boy.

    I am reluctant to review this since I have friends who loved this book, and my mother recommended it. But this book bugged me so much I just have to have my say.

    This is a book about a three year old boy, Colton, who comes close to death (never pronounced clinically dead, as in most

    ), Claims that he hung out with Jesus, God, John the Baptist, Gabriel, the Holy Ghost (I've always wondered about the holy ghost), his great grandpa, his dead sister, and Jesus's rainbow

    Oh Boy.

    I am reluctant to review this since I have friends who loved this book, and my mother recommended it. But this book bugged me so much I just have to have my say.

    This is a book about a three year old boy, Colton, who comes close to death (never pronounced clinically dead, as in most

    ), Claims that he hung out with Jesus, God, John the Baptist, Gabriel, the Holy Ghost (I've always wondered about the holy ghost), his great grandpa, his dead sister, and Jesus's rainbow horse, and the ubiquitous men in white beards on giant thrones.

    I do not doubt for a second that this child experienced something, be it a near death experience or an illness spawned delusion, but I take issue with how his story comes about. I have an open mind about this kind of thing, but.....awe c'mon.

    So Colton gets really really sick, vomiting every 30 minutes. His parents eventually get him to a hospital where tests are administered. Even though the Burpos question whether it is appendicitis (they have a strong suspicion it is) the incompetent doctor informs them that all the tests are negative for appendicitis. Instead of ripping the child out of bed and heading to a different hospital immediately, they wait 3 or 5 days (can't remember which). By the time they get it in gear and get him to a new doctor the boy is very close to death. His appendix has ruptured and the poison circulated through him. He was dehydrated, and of course he hadn't eaten in days. Ripe for delusion I say.

    He was taken into emergency surgery, during which he has his NDE/out of body experience. Some compelling things do happen that a lines itself more with an out of body experience, he knows what his parents are doing in other rooms for instance. When Colton is in "Heaven" He sees dead relatives he had never met before. This is all I can buy.

    Whenever someone reports a NDE, they are usually consistent with that persons belief system. If you are a Christian your experience will follow what you were taught from the bible. If you were raised to believe (or not believe) in another manner, your experience will follow what you were taught. Did I mention Colton's father, the author Todd Burpo, is an evangelical preacher?

    Slowly Colton's story comes out, by means of a myriad of questions by his father (leading ones no doubt). Colton would mention stuff like what color cloths Jesus wore (purple if you wondered) and his dad's jaw would drop (this happened often) because no one had ever told Colton that Jesus wore purple. "How could he know this?" his dad wondered. I'll tell you how Todd, he heard you say it! You're a preacher, I'd gather the conversation is pretty bible heavy in your household.

    My question is how could he not know it? Three year old brains are super sponges...he heard this mentioned a some point and that's how he knew it Todd, no great mystery.

    As I was listening to this book I kept trying to keep an open mind, but where this book completely jumped the shark for me was during a part where Colton is with his dad and family at a funeral. Colton points at the casket with a stern and concerned look on his face and says "Did that man have Jesus in his heart daddy? He had to have Jesus in his heart or he won't go to Heaven!!" *insert drama sting here* and Todd's jaw dropped once again. During this I'm standing in Aldi looking at the cauliflower and said out loud AWE C'MON!! I got a few stares, so I dropped the cauliflower and said "spots".

    This book is written by a guy who really believes in his evangelicalism. He rummaged around in Colton's "memories" and got "answers" that he wanted to hear and then believes proves his evangelical Christianity. If you don't believe what he believes folks 'ya aint gettin' into heaven people...sorry.

  • Tina

    First of all, this is a book I would never in a million years pick up on my own. I read it b/c one of my students brought it to me and told me how much he loved it, and that he wanted to lend it to me so I could read it. So, yeah: I read this b/c I care about my students and the things that are important to them. But I am also an atheist, and so of course I couldn't read the book through any other lens than that.

    I honestly tried to balance being skeptical with having an open mind, but, as so man

    First of all, this is a book I would never in a million years pick up on my own. I read it b/c one of my students brought it to me and told me how much he loved it, and that he wanted to lend it to me so I could read it. So, yeah: I read this b/c I care about my students and the things that are important to them. But I am also an atheist, and so of course I couldn't read the book through any other lens than that.

    I honestly tried to balance being skeptical with having an open mind, but, as so many others have pointed out, there's just too many big flaws, such as: He's the son of a preacher and so OF COURSE would/could know all this stuff that his father seems baffled by him knowing, young kids are imaginative and he doubtless started to learn that he got lots of positive attention whenever he'd talk about Heaven, the memories were revealed over several years and I find it hard to believe that the parents asked NO leading questions (and even if they somehow managed not to, we're back to issue one and the fact that he is growing up in a religious environment and is not completely ignorant of scripture), etc. See the various other one and two star reviews for a more comprehensive discussion.

    More than anything, this book disturbed me. I'm not trying to be dramatic or sarcastic here, but the levels of indoctrination going on are unsettling. When a four year old kid starts freaking out at funerals about people who didn't "know" Jesus not going to heaven...that's alarming to me. And I grew up Catholic, so it's not like Christianity is scary b/c it's foreign. I guess what's scary is how closed off some religious people are to other religions and myths. I don't know.

    To summarize: I don't believe this and I didn't like it (the casual sexism sprinkled in didn't help, you know), but I'm certainly glad the kid didn't die. (The incompetent doctor is another scary thing, too.)

    EDITED TO ADD: Annnnnd a book on psychology that I'm currently reading just reminded me that when it comes to memory, kids under the age of 5 often can't distinguish things that actually happened to them vs. things they were told. Not that I think my skepticism needed even more justification, but, there it is.

  • Amanda

    So I'll preface this by saying the following:

    1.) I would have never read this of my own accord. I read it only for book club.

    2.) I was skeptical going in.

    3.) Though I'm a born-and-raised Catholic, I would classify myself as an agnostic, at best.

    4.) I'll also admit I skimmed huge chunks of this book. It was the only way I was going to get through it at all. It was worse than I expected.

    Things that Bothered Me (in no particular order):

    1.) The first half of the book is the father rambling about hi

    So I'll preface this by saying the following:

    1.) I would have never read this of my own accord. I read it only for book club.

    2.) I was skeptical going in.

    3.) Though I'm a born-and-raised Catholic, I would classify myself as an agnostic, at best.

    4.) I'll also admit I skimmed huge chunks of this book. It was the only way I was going to get through it at all. It was worse than I expected.

    Things that Bothered Me (in no particular order):

    1.) The first half of the book is the father rambling about his illnesses. Yes, I'm very sad the guy had kidney stones and breast cancer and [some other ailment I can't remember]...but I don't see what any of that has to do with the kid getting sick.

    2.) If this was all so moving, why did they wait seven years before writing the book?

    3.) The kid is 11 now. Don't you think that's old enough that he could have wrote the book on his own? Or at least contributed a chapter in his own words?

    4.) Others have said this, but it bears repeating: isn't it convenient that this miracle happened to a pastor's kid? The dad keeps going on and on about how Colton just "couldn't have known" about so much of this religious stuff. Really? Kids are remarkably perceptive. I would find this all much more moving if it had happened to a kid who had never heard "the good word."

    5.) The parents only dragged the story out of the kid over the course of

    . As a parent, this is extremely odd to me. If my kid started telling me one day he'd been to heaven, you better believe I'd be asking some questions, and right now, not five years later.

    Finally (and this verges on a rant), it kind of annoys me how many Christians are saying that this changed their life / moved them to be better parents / etc... I'm sorry...you have the

    . The WORD OF GOD isn't enough for you? It takes a fairy tale as told by a three year old to convince you that maybe you should get your act together and start acting like a Christian?

    Fundamentally, I was just the wrong person to read this book. I am not its target audience. A belief in heaven presupposes a belief in God. Until you can sell me on that, there's not much this (poorly written, highly questionable) book is going to do for me.

    ETA (2/2012): I think it's pretty clear I think this particular book is crap. However, if you're interested in first-hand, post-death experiences, I'd suggest reading, "90 Minutes in Heaven". It's similar in its premise--a man dies, spends 90 minutes in heaven, comes back and tells his story--, BUT it's experienced by an adult and told by that same adult. (Unlike "Heaven", which is merely the dad's retelling of the kid's story.) I read it several years ago, but remember being much more impressed by it. I will offer the caveat that I was a much better Catholic/Christian at that time than I am now, so that likely colored my perception of the book. However, even accounting for that, "90 Minutes" is certainly the better written book.

  • Aaron Carlberg

    For a while now people have been asking me to read and comment on the book Heaven is for Real written by Todd Burpo. Todd Burpo writes the book as an account of the experiences of his four-year-old son, Colten. For some reason, because I am a pastor, people think I am going to love this book about a little boy who went to heaven, met Jesus, and then Jesus sent him back (like you put your unfinished cookies back in the oven).

    Well, here goes…and don't hate me for being honest. I did not like this

    For a while now people have been asking me to read and comment on the book Heaven is for Real written by Todd Burpo. Todd Burpo writes the book as an account of the experiences of his four-year-old son, Colten. For some reason, because I am a pastor, people think I am going to love this book about a little boy who went to heaven, met Jesus, and then Jesus sent him back (like you put your unfinished cookies back in the oven).

    Well, here goes…and don't hate me for being honest. I did not like this book what-so-ever.

    This book plays into our current climate of people going to spend (pick your amount of time) minutes/hours/seconds in (pick your place) heaven/hell/purgatory/Burger King in an effort to (pick your reason) grow your faith/make you feel good/make some money. It is not just the writing style of an adult trying to sound like a kid who sounds like an adult trying to sound like a kid, it is the poor theology that people are so willing to buy into.

    First, let me just say that Todd Burpo sounds like a Christian, I am not questioning his faith (for some reason people who have commented on this review think I question His salvation, but that is not my place). I simply want to say to so many Christians out there, please use more discernment in what you allow to shape your view of heaven and Jesus. We should be very careful when we start to build theology based solely on our experience (especially that of a 4 year old). As an example, scripture teaches that Jesus won our victory on the cross, he said our sins were paid for, Jesus actually used the words, "it is finished" in John 19:30. In Heaven is for Real we are told that Jesus still has to fight (pg136-139). My question is why? If Jesus is all-powerful what is the point of him handing out swords and bows and arrows?

    It seems much of the book is written to fit into a particular mindset and belief structure. Colten (the boy) will say something and the dad will interpret it with a verse that seems to make it all make sense…but it doesn't! When trying to describe Jesus, Colten is convinced that his style of dress is still from the 1st century and has never changed. He has brown hair, a beard, a white robe with a purple sash like a beauty pagent contestant(Jesus is the only one who gets to wear purple by the way), a crown, and red marks in the center of his palms (even though that is not where the nails would have gone) and on his feet (page 65-66.)

    This goes on and on…from people getting wings, to God and Jesus apparently sitting in their big chairs all day (except when Jesus is going up and down like an elevator)...oh, I almost forgot; all Angels also have to carry swords to keep Satan out of heaven (Page 133).

    I do not just want to blast the book, but this is the problem with what Christianity has become…according to the book the reason Jesus died on the cross was so that we could go to heaven.

    Question, is that why Jesus died?

    Modern Christianity makes salvation all about us, when salvation is about Jesus. Jesus died because we were so awful, our sin so great, that we destroyed everything. Jesus' death pays for our sin not so that we could go to heaven but so we could be a redeemed people living redeemed lives in Jesus' name. Jesus rose from the dead conquering our enemies of Satan, sin, and death. Jesus' death and resurrection are about life, bringing heaven to earth in how we, as God's people, live this life.

    Never once did Jesus, in the scriptures, talk about the goal being to get out of here and go somewhere else. The purpose of His coming was to restore relationship between God and us again by removing what stood in the way, namely our sin.

    As Christians we must get away from the idea that Jesus died so we could get out of this place and watch it burn. Jesus died AND ROSE; the heart that Jesus had for this world should burn in us with a passion and intensity to see the lost know Him.

    Heaven IS for real, but heaven is NOT the point. The point is Jesus…that is what we should remember.

  • Kristen

    Dear America,

    This is why people think we're stupid.

    Knock it off.

    Thanks,

    Kristen

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