The Five People You Meet in Heaven Paperback – Mar 1 2006
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Part melodrama and part parable, Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven weaves together three stories, all told about the same man: 83-year-old Eddie, the head maintenance person at Ruby Point Amusement Park. As the novel opens, readers are told that Eddie, unsuspecting, is only minutes away from death as he goes about his typical business at the park. Albom then traces Eddie's world through his tragic final moments, his funeral, and the ensuing days as friends clean out his apartment and adjust to life without him. In alternating sections, Albom flashes back to Eddie's birthdays, telling his life story as a kind of progress report over candles and cake each year. And in the third and last thread of the novel, Albom follows Eddie into heaven where the maintenance man sequentially encounters five pivotal figures from his life (a la A Christmas Carol). Each person has been waiting for him in heaven, and, as Albom reveals, each life (and death) was woven into Eddie's own in ways he never suspected. Each soul has a story to tell, a secret to reveal, and a lesson to share. Through them Eddie understands the meaning of his own life even as his arrival brings closure to theirs.
Albom takes a big risk with the novel; such a story can easily veer into the saccharine and preachy, and this one does in moments. But, for the most part, Albom's telling remains poignant and is occasionally profound. Even with its flaws, The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a small, pure, and simple book that will find good company on a shelf next to It's A Wonderful Life. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
"At the time of his death, Eddie was an old man with a barrel chest and a torso as squat as a soup can," writes Albom, author of the bestselling phenomenon Tuesdays with Morrie, in a brief first novel that is going to make a huge impact on many hearts and minds. Wearing a work shirt with a patch on the chest that reads "Eddie" over "Maintenance," limping around with a cane thanks to an old war injury, Eddie was the kind of guy everybody, including Eddie himself, tended to write off as one of life's minor characters, a gruff bit of background color. He spent most of his life maintaining the rides at Ruby Pier, a seaside amusement park, greasing tracks and tightening bolts and listening for strange sounds, "keeping them safe." The children who visited the pier were drawn to Eddie "like cold hands to a fire." Yet Eddie believed that he lived a "nothing" life-gone nowhere he "wasn't shipped to with a rifle," doing work that "required no more brains than washing a dish." On his 83rd birthday, however, Eddie dies trying to save a little girl. He wakes up in heaven, where a succession of five people are waiting to show him the true meaning and value of his life. One by one, these mostly unexpected characters remind him that we all live in a vast web of interconnection with other lives; that all our stories overlap; that acts of sacrifice seemingly small or fruitless do affect others; and that loyalty and love matter to a degree we can never fathom. Simply told, sentimental and profoundly true, this is a contemporary American fable that will be cherished by a vast readership. Bringing into the spotlight the anonymous Eddies of the world, the men and women who get lost in our cultural obsession with fame and fortune, this slim tale, like Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, reminds us of what really matters here on earth, of what our lives are given to us for.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
All the way through I kept waiting for that wonderful momentum, the paroxysm where you discover that everything was actually a lot more intricate than it initially had appeared to be, whilst all is being revealed to you, leaving your heart content or there to debate the choice of the author. Not the case. The climax comes early, as I believe that the people that Eddie meets at the beginning are far more interesting and wise than the ones met at the end.
The voice of Eddie is extremely annoying (Thank you Mitch for having other characters speak, nice breaks they were). It took stubbornness on my part to get through to the end. Mitch explains the voice as being similar to his uncle's voice, as he wanted to bestow credit to his uncle; he apparently tried very hard to reproduce his uncle''s unique husky strong speech.(...)
To see the rest of the review as well as many more interesting ones go to allwords.ca.
Heaven, instead of a lush garden, is a place where the similar earthly pain is revisited WITH each of the five people that Eddie meets. They are each part of Eddie's life and are people he knows, or they can be distant strangers whose lives have impacted or have been impacted by that of this tired and hopeless 83 year old man.
Though pain is experienced in heaven, there is also a beauty that Eddie finds in bringing closure to each of the five people he meets in his heaven, for even though death is looked at as an "end" Eddie is able to see how it IS really the beginning....
It is the beginning of the journey to finding out what meaning one's life carries with it....and also what one's life has meant to others, and how it has changed them. Even if you didn't realize it when you were on earth. The skies of heaven shed light on those reasons.
While this book was simple and perhaps not as complex and detailed as the drawn out death we see in "Tuesdays With Morrie," I did find that it shed a brighter light on the whole idea of death itself. In his first book, I felt that Albom was making the reader feel comfortable - and coming to terms with - the fact that death is nothing to fear.Read more ›
The author’s foreword summarized best: part of Heaven’s purpose is to learn how much we mattered in physical life. It was touching to see the joy, generations of memories, and safety that this maintenance veteran held on his shoulders. I can enjoy a book for what it is, even if it doesn’t cover what I expected. Instead of our eternal rest: “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” is about our orientation into Heaven. To my surprise, you don’t necessarily know the people, or they aren’t the favourites you would choose as greeters and educators. You have a connection in some poignant way, such as the lady for whom ‘Ruby Pier’s Fairground’ was named. Some greeters were linked to Eddie’s death or he to theirs. After these revelations, we retire somewhere blissful.
This was neatly laid out in pivotal moments, usually birthdays, followed by an educator explaining their meaning. I note one misrepresented portion. Eddie wasn’t at fault in the controversial event. It was those who dragged him out. However that day was responsible for his most deeply-suppressed doubt and I see why people cried over it. I will cherish Mitch’s empowering message.
The story follows a relatively simple narrative, employing a relatively simple style. No flash and dazzle here. But it is in the deception of simplicity that Mitch Albom creates the complexities in which humans chain themselves.
We follow the life of Eddie, an aged maintenance man at an amusement park, who believes himself trapped by his wartime disabilities, and by his inability to confront his father. The story begins, as Albom puts it, at the end, in this case the end of Eddie's life.
What unfolds is a story of redemption and discovery, and in the end of reconciliation and peace. It is a very human story. Any lover, any friend, any child and any parent will find common cause in this story, will nod, will identify.
I believe The Five People You Meet in Heaven will remain on the shelves of classic literature for generations to come.
Most recent customer reviews
Great book. It makes you think of the impact each and every one of us has on others.Published 7 months ago by Candace
I enjoyed his writing very much.
I will most definitely read more of his works!
A book that leads you to think.
I still have not received this electronically despite having paid for it. Please assist.Published 9 months ago by C G Redmead
I loved this book. Thought provoking and wishful. A comforting read and very well written.Published 14 months ago by Lynn Larocque
Awesome condition and so pleased with Amazon. This will be how I will order any books that I need in the future.Published 15 months ago by Angela Brooks