Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination, but an answer.
In heaven, five people explain your life to you. Some you knew, others may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here?”
A story of a man who had a lot of hopes and aspirations is ripped from his dreams after he starts picking up from where his father left off after he died, hospitalized because of pneumonia.
Although this simple story says a lot, Eddie can be anybody else’s name and the Amusement Park where Eddie worked could be replaced by anywhere else, the imagery of what happens to Eddie in a tragic accident which ends his life abruptly can be be shared by many others who think of what their life after death may be. In The five people you meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom leads you through constant flashbacks, and multiple present-occurence events. Eddie is coming to terms with what he was to people in his living life, and how he can be at peace with it in his death before he finally fulfill his path to his Heaven.
According to this story, we do not go straight to the puffy clouds and wings as soon as we die. When we have been admitted into Heaven, we are lead through to meeting a series of people that were directly or indirectly affected by you on Earth. Who those people are will be different for every person, and where you’ll meet them will also be different. The places we meet are the Heavens of others. The Amusement Park, Ruby Pier. A village that was put up in flames in the Phillipines. A diner on a snowy mountain. A corridor where every door leads to a different wedding celebration from different parts of the world. A beach filled with the laughter of little children and no adults around. Each of these locations might seem insignificant to one but not to the other.
Once you have spoken to your five people, you are finally able to reach your own Heaven. The ending of this book had me choked up cause I thought it was super sweet. Once you’ve reached your Heaven eventually you will be called to the line-up with all the other dead people who are awaiting their newly-dead and be able to tell them a story of their lives in a way they never saw it.
I really like the last few sentences of this book:
Lines formed at Ruby Pier – just as a line formed someplace else: five people, waiting, in five chosen memories, for a little girl named Amy or Annie to grow and to love and to age and to die, and to finally have her questions answered – why she lived and what she lived for. And in that line now was a whiskered old man, with a linen cap and a crooked nose, who waited in a place called the Stardust Band Shell to share his part of the secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world if full of stories, but the stories are all one.
If you’ve read Tuesdays with Morrie and liked it, I think you might really enjoy this. It’s a quick read and you can have it finished in an afternoon. But like I said earlier, depending on who you are, can take quite a bit away from what this book has to say.
If you read The Five People You Meet in Heaven I’d love to know what you have to say about it.