By Ginger Kelley
The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a story about an embittered war veteran who discovers after his death that his life wasn't a waste. There was meaning to it.
Eddie works at Ruby Pier and amusement park, fixing and maintaining the park rides. It is his job to ensure everything runs smoothly and he hates it. He feels his life is meaningless and that he is stuck in a dead-end job.
Eddie dies while trying to save a little girl from a cart falling from one of the rides. The cart lands on Eddie and kills him instantly; but what of the little girl? Eddie is floating through brilliant colors that change quickly and even though he has so many questions -- where am I? and what happened to the little girl? -- he is curiously at peace.
And then he meets person one. From each person, Eddie learns that no life is worthless, and that all lives intertwine and are connected, no matter how distantly.
Mitch Albom tells his story with sincerity and honesty that isn't seen very often. The emotions he evokes with the simpleness of the words leave one wondering how this applies to their own life. Albom wants the reader to be involved, to feel Eddie's sorrow and joy. And to learn along with Eddie that all life is precious and that everyone has an affect for good.
As with his previous book, Tuesdays with Morrie, Albom captures the reader's heart and teaches the greatest lessons in life through one man's journey.
The story begins at the end: the end of Eddie's life. With one hour left to live, the reader is given a glimpse into a typical day of Eddie's as he checks the rides, visits with co-workers with his typical grunts, and makes a child smile with an animal shaped out of pipe cleaners. Even surrounded by the happy sounds of an amusement park, Eddie feels trapped and has decided his job is unimportant and does not affect anyone but himself.
Then when he dies, the reader is given a look into a few select birthdays, all stories told in between Eddie's meetings with the five people waiting to impart their wisdom to him. Each birthday story, from 8 to 82, tells why Eddie feels and acts the way he does. Every small act, from running in front of a car to chase a baseball to raising a hand to protect himself from his father's blow, creates ripple effects in his life that lead to not-so-small moments.
With the last meeting, Eddie feels his greatest sorrow and greatest joy and finally learns what happened to the little girl he died trying to save.
From Eddie's journey the reader is given a chance to examine their own life and finish the book wondering which five people will they get to meet in heaven.