Author: Mitch Albom
Genre: Fiction, Spiritual
The Five People You Meet in Heaven‘s goodreads page here
SYNOPSIS: “THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN is a wonderfully moving fable that addresses the meaning of life, and life after death, in the poignant way that made TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE such an astonishing book. The novel’s protagonist is an elderly amusement park maintenance worker named Eddie who, while operating a ride called the ‘Free Fall’, dies while trying to save a young girl who gets in the way of a falling cart that hurtles to earth. Eddie goes to heaven, where he meets five people who were unexpectedly instrumental in some way in his life. While each guide takes him through heaven, Eddie learns a little bit more about what his time on earth meant, what he was supposed to have learned, and what his true purpose on earth was. Throughout there are dramatic flashbacks where we see scenes from his troubled childhood, his years in the army in the Philippines jungle, and with his first and only love, his wife Marguerite. THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN is the perfect book to follow TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE. Its compellingly affecting themes and lyrical writing will fascinate Mitch Albom’s huge readership.”
I also read this for my English course at school, and it was not what I was expecting. Due to the title containing heaven, I expected a novel containing themes about religion and god, and that didn’t interest me. Instead what I found was a novel about a man reconnecting with five different people that made a large impact on his life and how he became the person he was. Each individual person shared with Eddie a story of the impact he made on their lives and gave him 1 of 5 lessons he needed to learn before he could be at peace with himself.
Albom’s version of heaven involved different ‘levels’ in which a person would be waiting for you to reconnect in some way. Each of the five people would choose the area in which Eddie would be transported next so you are transported from Jungles in Asia to the Ruby Pier in which he spent his last years repairing amusement rides. While there you would learn a lesson from each which helps Eddie to let go of things in his life; they are taught the importance of forgiveness, and that sacrifices must be made no matter the consequences. The inclusion of this aspect intrigued me because it was unique because when most people write of heaven they talk about a pure area where all are accepted as they are, however, this version was raw and unclean. Eddie was holding onto so much anger, grief and sadness holding him back from living a happy life. It was interesting to see the impact of each of the 5 people on the way he spoke and how he thought of himself. It was interesting how there was a variety on the level that he knew his five people. He met his wife, the lady who was the inspiration for the Ruby Pier, a stranger he watched in the sideshows as a child, his friends from his time at war, and a girl that was killed after one of Eddie’s questionable decisions. The Blue man, which was the stranger from his childhood and the first person Eddie meets, was probably my favourite of the bunch as he told him what I believe is the most important lesson of all; each action has a cause and will impact others
The majority of the story is told through flashbacks which surprisingly were executed extremely well! Every other novel I have read that has incorporated flashbacks was included messily; the scenes didn’t run smoothly. However, Albom is such a talented author and managed to successfully pull off a technique that so many authors wouldn’t attempt. What I think makes it so successful is how the scenes from the past are long and detailed, you meet so many characters and learn so much more information about how Eddie is as a person. The audience learns how he was formed, as well as learning about how a person can remove years of pain and remorse from his life with a simple statement.
Albom’s writing is in no way perfect, but at moments it’s so poetic and really brings the story together. It is full of beautiful scenes which such vivid and imaginative description, and quotes that you can really relate to such as: “All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time”, and “Holding anger is a poison…It eats you from inside…We think that by hating someone we hurt them…But hatred is a curved blade…and the harm we do to others…we also do to ourselves.” All characters in this novel have a wisdom beyond their years and I was really surprised by the sense of maturity and sophistication with all, even the younger lower class citizens within the story.
I don’t think there is one aspect that I actually dislike, I rated it lower purely because I wasn’t pulled into the story. Most people are sucked in within the first 30 pages, however, I didn’t truly feel a connection with any of the character. Nevertheless, I still really enjoyed the plot and Albom’s beautiful writing style. I could talk about every single detail forever, and discuss the connection between characters but I believe that you need to experience it for yourself. The entire plot was so well considered that everything had a place and a connection with another story. So I’m sorry for being extremely vague and keeping this brief but I don’t wish to spoil anything more than I have to; I might have told you too much already! I recommend this novel to anyone that wants a quick and unique read, and loves a cry worthy book because there were some points in here that made me sob hard!