- Paperback: 196 pages
- Publisher: Hachette Books; Reprint edition (April 7, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1401308589
- ISBN-13: 978-1401308582
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3,217 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Five People You Meet in Heaven Paperback – Deckle Edge, March 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 an alternate Paperback 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 an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The premise of the book is that when you die, you meet five people. They are not always the five most important people in your life (parents, grandparents, spouses, children, etc), but sometimes people who you met in passing or who you'd rather forget. Sometimes it's someone you don't really even know. But they're always someone who has had an important impact on your life.
In The Five People You Meet in Heave, the story follows Eddie as he meets his five people and his life's meaning is revealed to him. He meets five people, only one of who he really would have thought would be on his 'five people' list. The story is heartbreaking and moving and life affirming. I am still a sobbing mess every time I re-read it. I can't tell you how many highlights and pencil marks my hard copy of this has, and probably just as many for my kindle version. Yes, I have both a hard copy and a kindle version. I treasure my original copy, but love having the digital version at my fingertips everywhere I go. This book is THAT good. It's the kind of book you pass along to a friend who is struggling or a teenager in need of guidance and searching for the meaning of life. If you only read one book, make it this one!
Albom raises some interesting, thought provoking questions and leaves some unanswered, which makes for a better read, especially considering the subject.
I hope my review has been helpful to you. It encourages me to continue writing and updating my reviews. Please leave a comment if you have any questions, I will be more than happy to answer if I can be of help.
Clearly, I'm siding on the side of the beauty of the sentimentality. There were a few times near the middle where I barred the flood-gates, and there were a few times at the end where I couldn't hold them back. While not all of Albom's aphorisms are good ones (I don't yearn my father's attention)there are enough beautifully vague quips to attempt a philosophy.
I personally, am not a believer in most things associated to God / Spirituality / Religion, Heaven being amongst them. So, if I give 5-stars to an 'after school special' it's because of the beauty of the story.
Eddie works at Ruby Pier, it's the last day of his life. He doesn't know he will be killed by a malfunctioned amusement park ride. He also doesn't know if he will be able to save the little girl in the rides plummet-path.
Eddies Five People:
1. The Blue Man - He worked with Eddie's father at Ruby Pier, the Blue Man was part of the 'freakshow' attractions. One day he borrowed a car to 'practice his driving' and in so doing nearly hit Eddie as he chased a baseball across the street. The Blue Man suffers a heart-attack and dies alone in the streets after the miss.
The Blue Man represents something of Saint Peter. Welcoming the guest, telling a brief fable about life and what is important 'This is the greatest gift God can give you: to understand what happened in your life.' (335).
The Lesson: "... there are no random acts. That we are all connected. That you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breese from the wind.' (437).
Interspersed with Birthdays (upon which usually something bad happens - his dad goes into hospital and dies a short time later one year; his wife Margaurite is in a car accident on her way to get Eddie from the track in another & this ruins their plans for adoption) to break the action between persons and to offer snippets of Eddies life back on earth, the story clips along alternating the earthly life past and Eddies transcendance through his 5 people.
2. The Captain - Here we learn about Eddies time as a war vet in Vietnam. He was shot by one of his own men after being held captive by a break-away sect of Vietcong. Eddie was shot because he would leave the area without being forced; he thought he saw something in the fire his squad had set to burn down the village. The Captain, it's made known, is shortly after killed by a landmine while doing recon.
Lesson: 'Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else.' (882)
3. Ruby - She whom the amusement park is named after. She is the keeper of the souls of those who have lost their lives or been intimately involved with the park since it's emergence. She harbors Eddies father. He must go, make peace with his father for the years of neglect and abuse. Eddie pretty much blames his father for the wreck that has become his life. But he learns that his father died in very noble fashion, attempting to save a man's life. A man whom may not have deserved it at that given point in time.
Lesson: 'Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside.' (1356).
4. Marguerite - Eddies wife. The only woman he ever loved. Sadly she put up with a lot of his bad behaviors and emotional distance. But he loved her and he wasn't ever painted as a vile man, but a distant, distracted and torn man. Marguerite spends alot of time with Eddie, she is young when he sees her but she is 47 when she is taken from Eddie.
Lesson: 'Lost love is still love, Eddie. It takes a different from, that's all.' (1669).
5. Tala - Returning to the second person Eddie meets in Heaven, The Captain, Eddie is confronted by the shape he sees in the fire that got him shot by a friend. It's a young girl, badly burned, told to 'hide' in a most inopportune location. Eddie 'made me fire.' but Eddie's salvation lies in the work he did, keeping children safe. Tala brought Eddie to heaven to keep him safe.
Lesson: "'Supposed to be there," she said. 'Where? At Ruby Pier?'" She nodded (1831).
We're all right where we're supposed to be.