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Something happened on the way to heaven
The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
Member Name: kirstymack80
The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
Date: 17/01/05, updated on 09/02/05 (254 review reads)
Advantages: different, uplifting
Disadvantages: slow start, big pricetag, small book!
I first saw this book in WH Smith a few months before Christmas. This sounded something a bit different, and not altogether a ‘happy’ book on first inspection with the main character dying right at the start! At just over 200 pages with a RRP of £6.99 I wasn’t going to make a purchase unless I could find it cheaper (hey I'm a skinflint - at least I admit it!). That didn’t happen, so I put it on my birthday list (which is a long time in coming because it’s December!). And one of my friends came up trumps - I couldn’t wait to start this!
* What’s it all about, Mack80? *
Eddie is the Maintenance Man at Ruby Pier. He’s worked there all his life. On the day that he turns eighty-three, he dies in a fairground accident trying to save a little girl falling from a ride. In his last few moments, he feels her hands in his and then … nothing.
He ‘wakes up’ in a teacup. Eddie’s aches and pains have disappeared and he is in the fairground of his childhood, 75 years ago. Everything is new and bright and as he walks around he realises he feels fit enough to run – something he hasn’t done for 60 odd years! But heaven isn’t the fairground – and there are five people from his past waiting for him …
The first person he meets tells him “Each of us was in your life for a reason. You may not have known the reason at the time, and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth”.
From there, he meets four other people that have somehow been involved in his life, some from years ago, some more recently. These people, who he dismissed as unimportant at the time, have a valuable lesson for him now.
* What I thought *
The book cleverly goes from Eddie’s last remaining seconds on earth back to the beginning – to his birth with his father pacing anxiously in the hospital waiting room. It skips to another birthday, when Eddie turns five and is given ‘the bumps’ by his father’s Irish friend.
This is all reminiscences of times past. We learn very little of Eddie the elderly other than that his whole working life has been spent at Ruby Pier and that most of his loved ones have departed. Glimpses of child Eddie are of a mischievous boy.
I’m not sure about these kind of books – the cynic in me doesn’t like authors trying to second guess what happens when we depart this life. However Albom doesn’t make light of this. In fact he paints a picture that is probably a lot different to the one we picture of the Afterlife.
There is humour “You can smoke in heaven. Can you believe that?” asks one of his former colleagues. The book doesn’t solely concentrate on the heaven aspect either – there are flashbacks to Eddie’s life such as meeting his future wife, going off to war and when he was held prisoner.
Chapters are told in the order of people that Eddie meets in heaven. We are introduced to his family and friends through chapters entitled ‘Today is Eddie’s birthday’, written in italics which are selected important birthdays in Eddie’s life.
* Other info *
play.com £5.49 (RRP £6.99)
plus opening chapter of ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’.
* About the author *
Mitch Albom also wrote the international bestseller ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’, plus six other books. He lives with his wife in Michigan.
* Other books by the author *
Tuesdays with Morrie
Live Albom II
Live Albom III
Live Albom IV
* Finally *
I did enjoy this book. It’s simple, it has a lesson and Eddie is an engaging character. Aside from the story it may be a comfort to anyone who has lost someone dear. It certainly makes you think.
At a very short 200 odd pages, this won’t be a long read for even the slowest reader – but I savoured it and read it over a matter of days. I didn’t want to rush through it. Instead, I took my time and found I was eager to read more. Don’t be fooled by the very plain blue cover – the fact that there is just a small ferris wheel on the front leaves more room (and impact) for the large title written across the cover. It makes a statement – and this is what caught my eye and made me pick the book up all those months ago.
Albom paints Eddie as an Average Joe, someone unimportant who wouldn’t make an impression. But Eddie so easily could be one of us. He questions everything he sees on his mystical journey and begins to realise his mistakes and even discovers some new things about himself!
It is slightly sentimental I suppose but not in a soppy or condescending way. Some of the harder cynics among you may find it a bit much but the descriptions of heaven are equal to the descriptions of Eddie’s life so there are two concurrent stories to concentrate on. It’s not a religious book and nothing is forced down your throat. Albom offers you the chance to believe.
Five stars and recommended. Perhaps a trace of ‘A Christmas Carol’ about it but a modern day version! It will make you realise what you have got – what you decide to do with it is up to you.
This book has a dedication to Albom’s uncle Edward at the beginning. ‘Everyone has an idea of heaven, as do most religions, and they should all be respected. The version represented here is only a guess, a wish, in some ways, that my uncle, and others like him – people who felt unimportant here on earth – realised, finally, how much they mattered and how they were loved’.
Thanks for reading.