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Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship That Answered Life's Greatest Questions Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 5, 2015

4.3 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is an inspiring memoir of the miracle of friendship. We can all learn much from this book’s simple and profound wisdom.” 
- Deepak Chopra, New York Times Best Selling Author of The Path to Love
 
 
"Empowering and heartfelt, Five Years in Heaven is a beautiful testament to new beginnings and second chances at any age."
- Andie Mitchell, New York Times Best Selling Author of It Was Me All Along
 
 
"What can an 87-year-old Benedictine sister teach a world-weary 31-year-old self-described ‘lost and disoriented’ man?  More than he could have imagined.  What can this book about their unique relationship teach you? More than you can imagine. This heartwarming story about spiritual friendship shows how God's love can be revealed in the most surprising of ways, and people."  
- James Martin, SJ, New York Times Best Selling Author of A Jesuit’s Guide to Almost Everything
 
 
"Five Years in Heaven is a beautiful tribute to the divine wisdom and comfort of friendship. This is an inspiring blueprint for living life to the fullest at any age."
- RoseMarie Terenzio, New York Times Best Selling Author of Fairy Tale Interrupted
 
 
Five Years in Heaven is a wonderfully crafted book that must be read slowly in order to fully absorb the brilliance and depth of Sister Augustine’s insights into the human condition.”
- Mary Neal, New York Times Best Selling Author of To Heaven and Back
 
 
“This is a beautiful and uplifting book that makes me smile.”
- Maura Poston Zagrans, bestselling author of Miracles Every Day

About the Author

John Schlimm is a Harvard-trained educator, artist, and award-winning writer. He has traveled the country speaking about inspirational/motivational topics, cooking, entertaining, and public relations, including his "Embrace Compassion, Change the World" keynote address on Capitol Hill. He has appeared on such national media outlets as The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, NPR, Martha Stewart Living's Everyday Food, The Splendid Table, QVC, and Fox & Friends. John also recently debuted his participatory art piece THE SMILE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD (is yours) with installations in Canada and Washington, D.C.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Image (May 5, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553446576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553446579
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Russell Fanelli TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 3, 2015
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The title of John Schlimm's new book, Five Years in Heaven, may give some people the false idea that John has actually visited heaven, when in reality what he has experienced is what some might call "a little slice of heaven." From the first moment John was introduced to Sister Augustine in the ceramics shop of St Joseph's Monastery in John's home town of St. Marys PA, he knew that a special and unique person had entered his life. The year is 2002 and John is thirty-one years old. He has had experience working for Tipper Gore in Washington D.C. and Naomi Judd in Nashville, but none of that experience would prepare him for the astonishing new world he was about to enter.

Are there saints on earth? John would say that if being a saint means living a holy and blessed life than yes, there are saints among us and Sister Augustine, now sadly dead, was one of them. For five years John visited Sister Augustine, an eighty-seven year old Benedictine nun, and helped her promote her wonderful ceramic pieces. John, an artist himself, realized immediately that Sister Augustine was an impressive talent. But as important as the ceramics were to John, far more important were the lessons in living imparted by Sister Augustine to him, not simply in words, but in the very manner of her life.

That last point about lessons in living is important to note because John's book is subtitled "The Unlikely Friendship That Answered Life's Greatest Questions." Readers of this review should know up front that while this statement may have been true for John, that it may or may not be true for the rest of us.

What, then, are some of these lessons?
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Format: Hardcover
John Schlimm's book called 'Five Years in Heaven' is a compilation of stories which take place during a period of time he spent with a nun who lived in St. Joseph's Monastery in Pennsylvania (which has since closed). And while I appreciate the sentiment of his tales, his writing lacks something to be desired.

"The snow was scalloping the porch's edge in undulating patterns, as if Mother Nature were gentling [sic] wielding a wide brush dipped in ivory paint." Or this one: "The snow crunched like toasted bread crumbs under my feet as I hurried toward the long porch leading to the shop."

Snow is snow. A writer doesn't need to tell us what snow is like in order to draw us into the book.

Now, I don't intend to be cruel, but while the premise of the book is sound---Schlimm's relationship with Sister Augustine and the insights she shared with him about life, the real truths are lost in his effusive writing. Forget all the descriptions. Get to the heart of the talks and stop the flowery writing. He holds the story together well, but with all his endless light-hearted comments about her cat, Blitzen, and overly-descriptive sentences, the urge to throw the book was strong.

Way too precious for me. I did appreciate his sincerity, but some strict editing over his dialogue would've made the book more serious reading and less like a schoolboy bragging on his favorite teacher.

(i received this book free to review from waterbook/multnomah)
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship That Answered Life's Greatest Questions" is a memoir of a friendship between an 87-year-old nun and a 31-year-old writer and publicist whose career crash had driven him back to his small, rural hometown.

I'm an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian, so I was looking forward to see what kind of spiritual advice Sister Augustine would give John Schlimm. While their friendship seems to have been wonderful for both of them -- she encouraged him to successfully restart his career and he publicized her ceramics, making her regionally famous -- the spiritual and psychological advice she gave him didn't seem that unusual, didn't answer life's greatest questions -- though it did answer many of Schlimm's questions -- and frankly was a little on the dull side.

For example, pages and pages are devoted to Sister Augustine's cats -- I like cats, but briefer descriptions would have worked better.

Sister Augustine and Schlimm shared common interests as artists and teachers, but reading their conversations is like sitting in a room where you can hear a happily-married couple discussing their daily concerns in the next room -- whose turn is it to mow the lawn? The couple is clearly very happy and deeply intertwined in their shared interests, but their conversations may not have much relevance for the listener's life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was more than a simple friendship. It was two souls connecting in a way that God intends. What a beautiful book~ I just purchased ten copies for my library book club to read. One of my top favorites in books, and now I have a signed copy for my shelf! If you can get a copy autographed, Mr. Schlimm is an artist, so the signature makes this book a true masterpiece.
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Format: Hardcover
While I enjoyed the story of the friendship between Sister Augustine and John, the writing, well, it wasn't entirely too my liking. But overall, the story was pretty incredible!

I am sad to say that it took me...well, roughly a month to get through this one. Even though I really enjoyed the story or seeing how Sister Augustine helped John move through the rocky times he was going through as he doubted himself and the dreams he was pursuing. Yet, it was the writing that made me drag my feet on finishing it. I know, I feel terrible saying that about an author's writing yet, this is not the first time I've liked a story more than the writing nor will it be the last.

It is easy enough to see why John, and those who met her, fell in love with Sister Augustine an her ability to help you find your way through life. There was just something about her personality and the way she spoke that, even through the memories of the writer, just jumped off the pages. From the stories of her childhood to that mischievous glint in the eye (that one could see from reading about her) there was, like I said, something about her and her wisdom that was great to read about.

Even though I really enjoyed the overall story line and the bond that formed between two unlikely people, a nun and a thirty something ex-PR/artist/teacher, the writing was slow going for me. While I liked reading about their experience in the ceramics shop at the convent, I felt that the, well, that the ceramics portion was a little much! *gah* He just rambled on about paints and molds and too much!! Literally, I would read a chapter and then put it down till the next day because the writing was too gilded that sometimes the story was lost.
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