The Five People You Meet In Heaven
, by Mitch Albom
, is one of those few
reads that not only holds you 'til the last page, but can make you reflect and ponder
your existence before putting it down and returning to real life
It's not really a religous novel, though you can take it as a literal definition of the afterlife.
This book is based around Eddie, a bitter war veteran who worked on repairing and maintaining carnival rides most of his life. The story begins with his death, the cause being an attempt to save a little girl from a falling cart. His last memory is two small hands in his. This happens on his eighty-third birthday, and flashbacks to previous birthdays help to build the framework of the plot.
After his death, Eddie meets five departed people whose lives have altered his existence. Each person, some whom he can barely remember, has something to teach him about his life.
As the story progresses, we learn more and more about Eddie's life, and why he feels it was so meaningless. All his life and its small defeats unravel into a detailed mystery, weaving in other people's lives and subplots, including the origin of Ruby Pier (the park he’s spent most of his working life at).
The real allure of The Five People You Meet in Heaven, is that you can’t quite predict where Albom will take the story, and how it will be resolved, so it would ruin the story, and the lessons it teaches, to go too into depth.
The author explains that his inspiration was his uncle Eddie, who told a young Albom about waking up at the hospital with a raging fever and seeing dead relatives at the foot of his bed. “Of course, we kids asked him breathlessly, ‘What did you do? What did you do?’ And being the salty fellow he was, he shrugged and said, ‘I told them to get lost. I wasn’t ready for them yet.’”* He remembers his uncle as “a tough, devoted, but sad old man who never got to see his dreams fulfilled and never really knew how much we loved him.”*
The Five People You Meet in Heaven has become a number one New York Times bestseller, but this is not the first example of Albom’s successful books, he also wrote Tuesdays With Morrie.
I wouldn’t say this is a life-changing book, but if you aren’t allergic to a bit of sentimentality, it’s a nice light read that may leave you feeling a little more uplifted, and perhaps teach you some things you forgot you already know.