Book Review: Map of Heaven by Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

Map of HeavenI promised a more in-depth review of this book before I left for Sedona (which was amazing BTW), so here we go. First of all, the legalese: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Map of Heaven is on its surface the story of a Elizabeth, 34-year old woman facing her own mortality when she’s diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. This sounds depressing, but in reality the book is so much more. It is an uplifting look into the questions we all ask at some point in our lives: Why am I here? What am I meant to be doing with my life? What happens if I die without doing it?

Without giving anything away, the answer comes down to forming a relationship with God (by whatever name you call him/her/it) and using your talents for the good of others. Nothing on that road is easy, but it’s a journey we all have to take in course of living. And I believe these are lessons and thought provoking philosophical questions that will resonate with everyone, regardless of their current religious path.

This book is inspirational fiction and it helps if you are (or were at least raised) Christian due to an emphasis on the Bible and Jesus later in the book. But as I said, I don’t think you have to be to find solace in this story. The two main characters are both questioning the existence of God in the beginning of the book, so if that’s your situation, you won’t be alone. The book also contains some very interesting discussions on the intersection of science (especially quantum physics) and faith, as well as the role of faith in the modern world. While some reviewers have said they found these sections heavy and hard to read, I thought they were fascinating and they have given me much to mediate upon.

Another reviewer described it as a religious fairy tale, which is kind of true. I prefer to think of it as life with a slightly more direct God intervention than most of us usually see. (But I believe we all see God’s hand/hear his/her/it’s voice in our lives in different ways at different times.) It’s kind of like The Adjustment Bureau but with notes and dreams rather than maps of lives and Bowler hats.

I only buy hard copies of ebooks I review if they really stick with me and I believe I’m going to read them again. I knew after reading only a few pages that this one was going to change my life and immediately bought it upon finishing. I came upon the book at a critical time in my life when I was asking many of the same questions as the main character (sans brain tumor, knock on wood!) so it was like God was talking to me through it. While I don’t have any firm answers after reading it, I highly recommend it for anyone wondering about their place in this world.

 I was so touched by this book that I bought another of the author’s books, this one a 60-day devotional for meditating on how you can work with God fulfill your dreams and your purpose in life. Just as certain people came into Elizabeth’s life at just the right moment in the book, I feel like Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson came into mine just when I needed her most. I hope that if you read it, you will feel the same sense of peace and assurance as I did. And even if you don’t, it’s still a beautiful story that had me tearing up (tears of joy and recognition) in the middle of the airport!
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