Book Review: Meant for Heaven by Bryan Young
Meant for Heaven is an inspirational book about a 3-year-old girl named Holland and the suffering she went through from brain tumors. She had a total of 7 brain surgeries. The book talks about her life, death, and the suffering her family went through and what they learned from this experience. The story is told from the point of view of Holland’s dad, Bryan.
This book is unique in that it includes angels, miracles, and the role of the spirit world. It reminded me of similar inspirational books I’ve read such as Heaven is for Real, Embraced by the Light, and The Message. The books I just mentioned contain near-death experiences, but do not result in death. This book drives home the point that death is not the end, and that those who have died are alive and well (though not on Earth) and that they’re busy doing important things on the other side. This book gives a glimpse of the work they do in the spirit world.
I cried so much while reading this book. It’s very painful, heart-wrenching, and some of the photos brought me to tears. I was really sad that Holland, who was only 3 years old, had to go through those numerous brain surgeries and chemotherapy. However, this book definitely reminded me of the eternal perspective. One thing that astounded me was when I read of a spiritual moment in which Bryan discovers that Holland’s suffering had been decided back in the pre-earth life for the purpose of bringing people to God.
I don’t want to give away some of the best parts of this book, such as the spiritual visitations, since they’re so personal. At first I found the otherworldly communications to be somewhat creepy, but if it were my family, I wouldn’t find it creepy at all. This book gave me a glimpse of the spirit world. I also learned a bit about how God views us and how different it is from how we view other people. I won’t spoil the book for you, but one example is the word-for-word “conversation” that Bryan had with God. It was very interesting to read.
Bryan writes about how he felt when Holland got cancer. “She was so innocent and yet she was being punished. I felt angry, I felt sad, I felt despair like never before. I didn’t want to lose her, but I felt that my faith could no longer help me…I had done everything God had asked me to do and this was how He had repaid me. These dark clouds filled my mind the whole ride home” (14). This book really drew me in and I felt like I was there, watching things unfold. I liked how personal it was. Bryan writes, “When I finally arrived, I couldn’t sleep. I was too upset and angry. I tried to pray to God, but all that came out was, ‘Why? Why? Why is this happening to her?’…Then a dark question crossed my mind: Is God even real at all?” (14). I mention these passages because these things resonate with a lot of people. I myself have felt very alone and abandoned at times and wondered where God was. Life is tough for everyone and anyone may struggle with these questions.
I particularly liked the account of Bryan helping comfort a woman who had cancer. For some reason, this part really stood out to me. It happened in the temple, right after an endowment session. Bryan had been prompted to talk to a woman, but he hesitated. Then the woman got up and left the celestial room. Bryan ran to catch up with her and told her the story of Holland. The woman then related to him her struggles:
“…she told me that she was just beginning her second round of chemo treatments for breast cancer. The first time had been very spiritual for her and she had drawn closer to the Lord, but when it came back she was bitter and upset and felt that God no longer cared about her. She had come to the temple that day to see if she could even feel the Spirit anymore. But throughout the whole session she just felt angry and upset and didn’t even want to stay in the celestial room. She had concluded that God didn’t care about her anymore” (125).
“Although at times I just wanted to get off the ride, I can now say with all surety that I am better for having taken it” (131). This is how I felt about reading this book. At times I would stop reading because I was crying too much, but later I would pick it up again and continue. For me, the most powerful parts were the otherworldly communications that Bryan relates. Revelation was another big part of the book, about mortals receiving revelation from those on the other side. I strongly recommend this book to those who desire to gain a deeper eternal perspective and also to those who want to learn more about receiving revelation.