For anyone who has read Mitch Albom’s book Tuesdays with Morrie, it was axiomatic to read The Five People You’ll Meet in Heaven.

When Albom was asked why it took so long between his first two books, he said, “To be honest, I was a bit overwhelmed by the success of Tuesdays. At first, nobody wanted to publish that book or talk about it very much.”

“Then all of a sudden all everyone wanted me to do was write a sequel. I knew I didn’t want to do that. I said everything I had to say in that book about the last class between me and Morrie. So I waited until something inspired me the way that book did. It just happened to take six years.”

When asked if anything Morrie had said led to the “Five People” plot, he revealed the fact that “Morrie often told a story about waves, and how when they washed up on the shore they ceased to exist, unless you would realize that, in truth, they were not really waves, they were part of the ocean.

“Morrie saw himself that way, as part of something connected to a larger humanity. In Five People, I explore that idea, that we’re all connected to each other in ways we don’t even realize, and that maybe, when your life is over, you may discover all the other ‘waves’ in this great ocean that you affected without even knowing it.”

These insights show the integrity and sensitivity of Mitch Albom, who works for the Detroit Free Press and is arguably one of the best sportswriters in the United States. His work on “Five People” shows glimpses of his sheer talent for writing.

The Five People You Shall Meet in Heaven is the story of Eddie, a simple man who lives a simple life as a handyman and has a heartache and sorrow.

He spends his whole life beating himself up because he never left the amusement park to pursue his dream of becoming an engineer. He blames everyone but himself for not progressing in the world. This is his grief, and he feels that his life has been wasted.

Eddie dies on his 83rd birthday while trying to save a girl from a falling car on a roller coaster gone wrong, and his heart aches. With his dying breath from him, he feels two small hands in his as he tries to push the girl away, and then nothing.

He dies without knowing if he saved the girl’s life or not.

He wakes up in Heaven and is destined to meet five people, loved ones (his wife Marguerite) and distant strangers who form a thread in his life that, woven into a web, spells out the meaning of his life.

The strangers, Blue Man, the Captain, Ruby, and Tala, all played important roles in Eddie’s life without him realizing their importance at the time.

Each person shares with Eddie a life lesson that he couldn’t learn on Earth.

Albom’s writing skills shine through in these memorable quotes from all five characters:

Ruby: “Holding anger back is poison. It eats you up inside. We think that when we hate someone we hurt them. But hate is a curved blade. And the damage we do to others, we also do to ourselves.” .

Blue Man: “There are no random acts. We are all connected. You can’t separate one life from another any more than you can separate a breeze from the wind.”

Blue Man: “Strangers are family you haven’t gotten to know yet.”

Marguerite (Eddie’s wife who precedes him in death): “Love lost is still love, Eddie. It just takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t hold her hand, you can’t hold all her hair. But when those senses weaken, another comes to life. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You hold it. You dance with it. Life has to end, Eddie. Love doesn’t.”

Be forewarned that The Five People You’ll Meet in Heaven can and probably will bring tears to your eyes, and cause your throat to pull back and become sore with tension. This book is not for children, even adults cannot deal with it and try to understand the theme and meaning of its message.

This book has an incredible ending that allows Eddie to finally understand the meaning of his life. I will not reveal the ending here, you must read the ending to gain the blessing from it.

This is an extremely complicated story. It forces us to examine our existence here on earth; however, the story is worth it if you have any spiritual development.

Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie was on the New York Times Best Seller list for 4 years. While The Five People You Meet in Heaven reached No. 1 on the same chart, it’s a much harder read to get your head around. That’s why I write reviews. Unless many sing its praises, the voice of understanding can be silenced. Silence is a void that would be unbearable.

Perhaps Albom’s effort could reach even more readers if he were a philosopher as well as a writer. A writer like Albom can craft a beautiful sentence that a reader like me can appreciate. A philosopher can come up with another sentence that immediately strikes a chord with almost everyone.

Great poets often achieve this heartfelt feeling, perhaps they are also philosophers.

I would read this book again, and I was a better person for reading it the first time.

Copyright © 2007 Ed Bagley

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *