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To Heaven and Back: The True Story of a Doctor's Extraordinary Walk with God

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  7,270 Ratings  ·  918 Reviews
Is there life after death? Is God real? Is there sufficient reason to live by faith? Dr. Mary Neal's walk with God has been both ordinary and extraordinary, brimming with the gift and privilege of being touched by God in visible and very tangible ways. She is a practicing orthopaedic surgeon, a wife, and a mother who has experienced joy as well as great sorrow and death. S ...more
Paperback, 236 pages
Published November 5th 2011 by Circle 6 Publishing (first published January 1st 2011)
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~☆~Autumn♥♥☽ I also thought this was extremely strange and I am wondering about this entire book. To me they lack common sense going down to kayak over water falls…moreI also thought this was extremely strange and I am wondering about this entire book. To me they lack common sense going down to kayak over water falls and I don't think a real Christian would put themselves in this type of danger but then what do I know! (nothing)

Missionaries (nurses) in Africa used the same needle over and over thereby injecting hundreds of villagers that they were "helping" with AIDS due to the dirty needle. It seems they knew nothing about sterilization to be using the same needle over and over. That is NOT the only place that this type of thing happened.(less)

Community Reviews

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Nina Olivos
Jul 01, 2012 Nina Olivos rated it did not like it
I must preface this review by stating that I am a bible believing Christian. I believe that salvation is for those who call Jesus Christ Lord, and is available to all who do. I received this book with the understanding that it is a "Christian" read, however, not only was I was terribly disappointed in it being labeled as such, I was incredibly disturbed by the doctrine presented.

I do believe after having read this book that Mary had a supernatural experience and passed over the threshold from l
Akeyla Pratt
Feb 20, 2013 Akeyla Pratt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the things I liked most about this book was that it's clear that Dr. Neal isn't a writer, and I don't mean that in an offensive way at all. Her prose is very simple, with little (if any) embellishments, flowery language, or complex syntax. And the reason why I like that for this text is because it adds authenticity to her story. She's not a charismatic, artistic type trying to sell a story or argue her own point of view... she is very much just a medical professional who has led a life th ...more
Dana Rongione
Jun 11, 2012 Dana Rongione rated it did not like it
To Heaven and Back is "a doctor's extraordinary account of her death, Heaven, angels and life again" and is supposedly true is all aspects.

Allow me to preface this review by stating that this opinion is coming from a born-again, fundamental, Bible-believing Christian. As such, I found this book very disturbing and feel that the best place for it is in the garbage can. I know that sounds harsh, but I feel this book contains several elements that could prove to be extremely hazardous to Christians
Orbs n Rings
Jun 25, 2012 Orbs n Rings rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Life is spiritial journey and second chances are real with God.

After having worked in the medical field for many years and seeing death first hand I was immediately interested in reading this title written by a real life medical surgeon who had a real near death experience. Throughout my lifetime I have read many real life NDE's of those who either through traumatic injuries or illness passed away only to later be revived and describe in as much detail as possible what they have seen. This howe
May 30, 2012 Kathy rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
I love reading about Near Death Experiences. I've read quite a few different accounts and love to see their similarities and differences.

I was surprised by how small of a role the author's actual near death experience played in this book. It is much more of an autobiographical - life lessons learned kind of a book. However at the time I was reading this book those life lessons were exactly what I was needing to hear so this book really rang true to me. At the time my own son was struggling and
Cindy Knoke
Jun 14, 2012 Cindy Knoke rated it it was amazing
I think that Mary Neal’s book is important for people to read. Her incredible experience gives us hope regarding the purpose of our lives and the meaning of our deaths. She is a most admirable person and her book will be of interest and help to people who are interested in NDE’s, what happens to us when we die, and how we should try to live our lives in preparation for this. For these reasons, this book is invaluable.

There were a couple of things in Mary Neal’s books that bothered me from a psyc
Sep 24, 2012 Jordyn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anybody & Everybody
To Heaven and Back is the story of one woman’s life of providential living.

To Heaven and Back tells the story of Dr. Mary Neal, an orthopedic surgeon, who drowned in a kayaking accident in the Chilean Andes, went to heaven and was revived by the efforts of her companions. But it isn’t just another I-died-and-went-to-heaven-then-came-back book, although it certainly does tell the story of a woman who did exactly that. Dr. Neal tells that story with clarity and in detail. But what sets the book ap
This is not a review, just bits I would like to remember later. However, it must be noted that I read this book in one sitting. All 220 pages of it. I have never done that before.

"Of note is that most theologians would agree that angels live among us according to God's will, not our own. Lewis Sperry Chafer wrote in Systematic Theology (Kregel, 1993), 'One reason angels are rendered invisible to human sight may be that if they were seen, they would be worshiped. Man, who is prone to idolatry as
Peggy Donnelly
Aug 11, 2012 Peggy Donnelly rated it liked it
As an RN, I was looking for a clinical explanation of what happened when she "died" and came back. What injuries she sustained? How her brain could have survived the oxygen deprivation? What brain injury would have been usual for that type of exposure? Who better to deliver that level of detail than an orthopedic surgeon? What I got was the usual "bright light and glowing nebulous beings" that fill most near death experience descriptions. There was vague timing and inattention to detail. For exa ...more
Feb 08, 2013 Heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gosh, I just don't know about this one. Certainly her survival and recovery is a miracle, but some of this book is just so "out there". An angel in the form of an owl sent to stare at her in order to convey a message (chapter 21)?? Not particularly well written, either. I'd give it 2.5 stars, but I rounded up.
Feb 24, 2013 Rich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
February 24, 2013 – Sunday. COINCIDENCE OR DESIGN? We all experience events in our lives that startle us from time to time. These occasions make us stop and ask our selves if what just happened to us was a coincidence or part of a greater, grand design or plan. Good fortune and luck falls into this category. I consider myself a very fortunate person. Years ago a political critic and opponent of mine accused me of living a ‘charmed life’, something I took as a back-handed compliment. Its true. I ...more
Lisa Nelson
Jan 24, 2015 Lisa Nelson rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, audio
3.5 Stars

Confession: I have a serious fascination with books, movies and 20/20's,Datelines or 60 Minutes about heaven and out of body experiences. I find myself gravitating to these books every 2-10 years. I continue to be stunned by the similarities in what people experience and am curious and a little in awe of these very personal supernatural accountings.

I really liked the straightforward narrative and very believable experience that this author penned. I especially appreciated that she did
Jan 30, 2013 Jerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
This is a fascinating little book, a quick read, about the life experiences of a woman who had a near death experience. But it is not so much about her brief journey to heaven and back as about her experiences with miracles and angels in her life.

“Although we are rarely aware of angels or their intervention in our world, I believe there are angels all around us every day of our lives... They are the ones orchestrating the 'coincidences' that occur so commonly in our lives. Of note is that most
Herb Hunter
Sep 11, 2012 Herb Hunter rated it did not like it
This is one of those books that someone gave to me and told me I "just had" to read it. The genre of book (someone dies, goes to heaven and then comes back to life) is not something I would normally read. But, out of respect to the one who gave it to me, I read it. You could read my review on the other book from this genre which I read, because my feelings are much the same. The author of this book is credible, being an adult, a medical doctor and a parent, but the reflections on heaven are the ...more
Sandy Walker
Jan 07, 2013 Sandy Walker added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people interested in supernatural phenomenon, seekers, those looking for faith
Got this for Christmas - it was a quick read. Engaging story - though be forewarned the entire book is not about her experience of going to heaven so the title is a little misleading. She recounts many different spiritual experiences she has had - some are pretty amazing - while maintaining a kind of skeptical perspective "I wouldn't have believed it myself if it wasn't happening to me.". It seems believable - I come from the world of science and yet have faith in the supernatural. Her story doe ...more
B. Serum
Apr 25, 2013 B. Serum rated it did not like it
To be sure, the author, orthopaedic surgeon Mary C. Neal, MD, encountered some seriously traumatic experiences, once in 1999 when she nearly died in a kayaking incident and again ten years later when she lost her son in a senseless automobile accident. This woman has had a lot with which to process and cope. On a personal level, my heart goes out to her and wish her love and support.

This book, however, is a different matter.

I found it to be a 220 pages of exasperating religious witnessing that t
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
"Many have said that my experience is remarkable. What I find more remarkable, however, is how readily many people in our society believe outlandish and unsubstantiated urban myths and conspiracies (Pop Rocks and Coke, JFK assassination, AIDS is man-made, etc.), yet disregard thousands of personal and consistent testimonies of miracles and near-death experiences from people throughout all cultures and religions." (pg 205).

Dr. Mary C. Neal, an orthopedic surgeon, thought she had an understanding
Jordyn Redwood
Feb 02, 2013 Jordyn Redwood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Warning: Spoiler Alert!!

To Heaven and Back is the personal account of orthopedic surgeon Mary Neal and the events of her life after she drowned and was later resuscitated kayaking on a river in Chile.

What's interesting, is just like Eben (who suffered from an extremely rare form of meningities), it seemed like God used Mary's injuries to get her attention.

As she was kayaking, she was trapped in the boat underneath a deluge of water. As people tried to rescue her, both her legs broke as she was s
Jennifer Defoy
Nov 03, 2012 Jennifer Defoy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always been inspired by people's accounts of being in Heaven. Whether they've had a near-death experience or they've been given insight into Heaven it's a sign to me that Heaven is real and that God's promise to us is true. So when I was given the chance to review this book I jumped at it. While I may be a bit impartial on the subject I did truly enjoy this book.

Mary's story is inspirational. What I loved about her story is she wasn't perfect. She admitted that when her life was crazy - sc
Jun 19, 2012 Sheila rated it it was amazing
The fact that the author of To Heaven and Back is a superbly well-qualified medical doctor is what drew me to choose this book from amongst all the other recent publications depicting visits to heaven. I wanted to know how someone who is truly a scientist might interpret and define her near-death experience. This book provides a well-written journal of events, starting long before the author’s accident so the reader can correctly recognize that she is both believer and scientist. She’s also a ve ...more
May 27, 2012 Linda rated it liked it
Interesting book. I already believe that heaven is a real place. I already believe in God. I believe the Bible is true. Since I AM a believer, I didn't need convincing. I don't know that this book would convince someone who WASN'T a believer to become one.

I almost totally accept her "Logical Conclusions" at the end of the book---Heaven is a real place, nothing can separate me from God's love, I have work to do, God will see me through. I would modify the one that said "God's promises are true."
Heidi The Hippie Librarian
I've read a dozen or so books about near death experiences and I've found that I prefer the books that focus on the details of the event rather than trying to convert everyone who opens up the book. People can believe whatever they want and write books about it too. It's just not very fun to read in my opinion.

Some bits that stuck with me from this book:

"I believe that when people with near-death experiences describe "seeing the white light" or "moving toward the white light," they may be descri
Jack Jr.
Dec 10, 2012 Jack Jr. rated it really liked it
A very moving story of a near death encounter. All of the books about near death encounters vary substantially about how people experience and perceive their God and Heaven.

I am a firm believer that our God speaks to each of his children in different and diverse ways. It is not my right to make judgments of how others worship their God or how they perceive what Heaven is like.

In 2010 I had two dreams that allowed me to experience death, Heaven, and a personal encounter with the God of Scriptur
Jody Lamb
Jan 19, 2014 Jody Lamb rated it really liked it
Shelves: inspiring-reads
Dr. Neal's account of what she experienced after dying and returning is fascinating. What's more fascinating to me, though, is the series of incredible events throughout her life and how she coped with them (i.e. family deaths, patient deaths, etc.). The descriptions of the premonitions about her son Willie's death gave me chills (especially what he said to his friend minutes before the tragic accident)...I don't think I'll ever forget the scene those words created in my mind. This book is writt ...more
Katrina Lantz
Jun 03, 2013 Katrina Lantz rated it it was amazing
Inspiring. I too was intrigued by the blueprint idea of God's tapestry plan for us. I've heard it before and discounted it because it's hard to imagine okaying some of our life traumas. The way she puts it, though, it rings true. These important points she mentions, like choosing and getting into college, changing jobs, changing careers, choosing a spouse, those are all times in my life riddled with coincidence and what I recognize as providence. I loved her advice in the end to keep a journal a ...more
Nov 10, 2012 Peggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the end of this book, the author allows a few readers to ask questions, and one was basically had she made the story up to make money. NOT! My life has been very difficult this year, losing a job, not being able to find a new one, 4 kids to feed, the holidays coming up . . . my faith was starting to waiver. Reading this book renewed my faith, made me realize there are angels taking care of us (while reading, I stopped for a moment and asked into the air please show me a sign, and my cell phon ...more
Sarah Louise Leach
May 21, 2012 Sarah Louise Leach rated it really liked it
Reading this book was like listening to a terribly dull acquaintance with something fascinating to say. I was intrigued by her story and inspired by its message but it was so pedestrianly written and took so long to get to the events themselves, then when it did she did not tell you enough about them, and lacked the powers of description to bring them to life with the luminosity she obvioulsy felt. I am probably being unfair to her as she is an MD not a writer, and i suppose the matter of fact w ...more
May 18, 2013 Kelli rated it it was amazing
Very inspiring book! I have read quite a few books on life after death and the commonalities of the experience across all different Christian faiths is remarkable to me. I would like to read the death experiences of Muslims, Jews and other sects to see the similarities. I realize even more that God loves all people and wants them to return regardless of their religions here on earth. I wish we could all remember that and live in peace practicing whatever religion we choose.
Laura Hartness
May 25, 2012 Laura Hartness rated it liked it
Shelves: books-for-review
Within the last few years, I've greatly enjoyed reading a couple of books that recounted the testimonies of those who have had experiences in heaven. Don Piper's book 90 Minutes in Heaven was amazing, and his continued testimony of how he has endured physical and emotional pain since his return is inspiring. I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of years ago, and I look forward to finishing his follow-up book of encouragements, Heaven is Real.

This past Christmas I also read the jaw-dropping
Aug 10, 2012 Ivy rated it really liked it
Mary C. Neal, MD's relationship with God has had its ups and downs. Raised a Christian, God forms a central part of her life but, as most of us in our adolescence, fails to call on Him save in her moments of greatest need. All that changes when she suffers an accident while on a boating trip to South America. Mary is caught under a waterfall and drowns. She experiences what many call a near-death experience where she claims to have been in heaven and in the company of angels. For Mary, this is a ...more
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“Life isn’t about waiting for the showers to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” —Vivian Greene” 3 likes
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