Thursday 21 November 2013

Book Review: Waking Up in Heaven by Crystal McVea

By Hazel Barker

Publisher’s Summary

The remarkable story of a woman, plagued with guilt and skepticism, dramatically changed by the nine minutes she spent in heaven.

"God let me see me through His eyes. And in that instant I knew that God had always loved me, through all of those dark and difficult years when I doubted His existence, through every crisis and every heartbreak that made me turn away from Him more. I knew, in that instant, that His love was endless and boundless, and that if He loved me so much, how could I not love myself?"

For most of her life, Crystal McVea was a skeptic whose history of abuse and bad choices made her feel beyond the reach of God--who questioned if God was even real. She had all but given up hope. Then came December 10, 2009--and the moment that changed everything.

For nine minutes that night, Crystal went into full respiratory arrest. She was unconscious and unable to breathe on her own, unaware of the crisis happening around her as the hospital staff rushed to save her life. Crystal doesn't remember the trauma or losing consciousness; she just remembers waking up in heaven, next to God.

Waking Up in Heaven invites readers to witness the relentless pursuit of God in a life that was broken and seemingly beyond hope, an awe-inspiring account of love, forgiveness, and redemption, and the healing power of God's presence.

Waking Up in Heaven is the story of Crystal McVea, the day she died for nine minutes, went to heaven, and stood before God. In this remarkable autobiography, Crystal shares her experience of walking with God towards the gates of heaven - a place so full of light and love that she did not want to leave. But Crystal was miraculously revived and came back to consciousness in a hospital room surrounded by doctors, nurses and her own mother. Previously a sceptic with a dark, troubled past, Crystal's encounter with God made her a believer. In Waking Up in Heaven, Crystal toggles back and forth between her experience in heaven and her life story, both the good and the bad, in the hope of spreading God's message of love and redemption.

Review by Hazel Barker

Waking Up in Heaven is a redemptive story depicting God’s love and patience. Crystal McVea writes about God chasing her in one of her bleakest moments – something He does time and time again. She also states, ‘It was God taking the very things the enemy used to try and destroy me – anger, bitterness, self-hatred – and instead saving me and showing me He is real.’

The story is a faith-enriching one and relates her near-death experience but barely touches on what the title leads us to expect – Heaven itself although the author does feel God’s presence. The book is disappointing for those drawn to it in the hope of sharing her experience of Heaven.

I read the book because my brother also had a near-death experience and saw lights. He heard heavenly music and felt peaceful. Unfortunately, the vision didn’t bring him closer to God. Perhaps someday…

The author asserts that the medical profession attribute such phenomenon to lack of oxygen and that when the heart stops beating, the brain loses oxygen and can trigger memories of the past, and bright lights appear. Whatever cynics may say, if such an experience leads to conversion, then surely it’s due to God’s mercy.

The story tends to bore the reader because of the continual switching back and forth in time and the constant repetitions. Despite its drawbacks, Waking Up in Heaven has many interesting sections on child molestation and sexual abuse. Reading the book may warn us of dangers facing younger members of our family.

You can find out more about Hazel Barker at her website


  1. Thank you for an honest review, Hazel. I must admit, I like to reserve my judgment on these kinds of books.

  2. Hazel, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book. It's interesting to read about how God reveals himself to different people in different ways.

  3. Being an ex-nurse, these stories are especialy interesting for me. Over the years have read several accounts of near death experiences and unfortunately many simply did not seem to me to line up with what the Bible teaches. Whenever God is glorified as this woman shows by her being drawn to a relationship with Him it seems far more believable in contrast to the man's experience. Thank you for a good review, Hazel


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