Books + Hot Chocolate

Books + Hot Chocolate

Thursday, 24 April 2014

the five people you meet in heaven

Title                : the five people you meet in heaven
Author            : Mitch Albom
Genre             : Family/ Fiction/ Sacrifice/ Love 

From the author of the number one New York Times bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie comes this long‒awaited follow-up, an enchanting, beautifully crafted novel that explores a mystery only heaven can unfold. Like what I have promised a week ago, I will feature another great novel written by Mitch Albom, which entitled the five people you meet in heaven. This short novel comprises the elements of love, family and sacrifices which can definitely melt your heart, especially if you are someone who is sentimental and sensitive. Not only that this novel is a reading pleasure, it also teaches you about the values of appreciating your life and lives your life to the fullest so that you won’t have regrets after you died. In addition, the five people you meet in heaven is also about the beauty of heaven. What happens after death? Do human goes to heaven? What is heaven means to you and how would you imagine it? Is it a place full of forest, flowers and tame animals? Or is it a place where you loved the most when you were still alive? Is there any price to pay when you go to heaven? Who can go to heaven and what do you need to go to heaven?  All these questions are the elements that make this novel a masterpiece. 

What this story is about?

Surprisingly, this story begins with its ending and then the rest of the story is unfolds chronologically in flashbacks. As the author says: ‘It might seem strange to start a story with an ending. But all endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.” 

The novel the five people you meet in heaven was published in 2003 and it is about a man named Eddie, who is a crippled veteran of World War II. Life has been hard for him. The only bright and redeeming feature of Eddie's growing ‒ up years is his mother who loves him unconditionally. Unfortunately, she fails to prevent her husband from neglecting Eddie, beating him and abusing him verbally and emotionally. 

“His legs were thin and veined now, and his left knee, wounded in the war, ruined by arthritis.”

“The damage done by Eddie’s father was, at the beginning, the damage of neglect. As an infant, Eddie was rarely held by that man, and as a child, he was mostly grabbed by the arm, less with love than with annoyance. Eddie’s mother handed out the tenderness; his father was there for the discipline.”

The story begins with Eddie's death at eighty ‒ three years of age and then through flashbacks, the author reveals Eddie’s entire life to the readers. He is in charge of the maintenance of the rides at Ruby Pier (a theme park/ funfair) along with his assistant, Dominguez. Eddie takes pride in the accident‒ free safety record at the Pier. In the first chapter, readers learn that a young man has lost his car keys, and eventually the keys cause the most popular ride, Freddy's Free Fall, to malfunction. Eddie foreseen that a cable might have been shredded due to certain factors (though the real reason is because of the car key), but he is unable to make himself heard in time to prevent one of the carts from falling towards a little girl. He leaps to save her, and that is the last thing he remembers on earth. From this scene, we can see that an event will lead to another. No matter how unimportant an event seems to you, but it might have a devastating effect on others. 

“The pulley was wedged by a small object that must have fallen through the opening at the most precise moment.
A car key.”

“…landing on the metal platform, which ripped through his shirt and split open his skin…A stunning impact. A blinding flash of light. And then, nothing.”

            The remainder of the novel is told in alternating present ‒ tense encounters in Heaven and flashbacks that are organized around Eddie's birthdays. He is told that he will meet five people in Heaven, and the purpose of those meetings is to help him understand his life on earth. 

The first person he meets is the Blue Man from the freak show on the Pier, who died when Eddie was eight years old. The Blue Man reveals that eight years old Eddie was responsible for his death. In Heaven, the man tells Eddie his life story, and the lesson Eddie is to learn from this first person is that everything happens for a reason. There are no random events in life. All lives and experiences are interconnected in some way, and even the little things you do can affect other people's lives and experiences dramatically.

The Blue Man looked a bit surprised. He smiled at Eddie. “You did,” he said.

Eddie steps back. He squared his body as if bracing for a fight. 

“But now I gotta pay,” he said.
“To pay?”
“For my sin. That’s why I’m here, right? Justice?”

“No, Eddie. You are here so I can teach you something. All the people you meet here have one thing to teach you.”

The second person Eddie meets is his captain from the war. Four of his men, including Eddie, were captured with him in the Philippines. For revenge, Eddie and his soldier friends had decided to burn down the enemy’s camp. Eddie was sure that there was a child in a tent he had torched, and he was going into the fire to rescue it. As he was walking into the fire, Eddie's leg was suddenly shot by unknown source, leaving him a resentful cripple for the rest of his life. By using the injury as an excuse, he blames fate for his unproductive life after the war. He discovers in this second encounter in Heaven that his captain is the one who shot him. Due to anger, he wrestled with the captain while they are in heaven (pretty impressive right?). However, in the end, he comes to accept the act of the captain, who shot his leg due to one noble reason (you must find this out by yourself). The lesson he learns is that no one dies for nothing and that when you sacrifice something precious, such as a leg, you always gain something in return. Pitiful for him, he never thinks about what his life has to offer as he is drowned with his own misery. Along the way in the heaven, he will eventually discover about the essence of life. 

“For me, that little idea was what I told you guys every day. No one gets left behind.”

Eddie nodded. “That meant a lot,” he said.
“I hope so,” he replied.
“Why do you say that?” Eddie asked.
“Because I was the one,” he said, “who shot you.” 

The third person Eddie meets is a woman named Ruby, a woman whom he doesn’t know in his 83 years of life and yet she plays a significant role in his life. Ruby Pier, the amusement park where Eddie had worked for years, was named based on her name. The Ruby Pier was a gift from her husband. Although they didn’t know each other, Ruby feels that she is indebted to Eddie because the existence of Ruby Pier causes pain to Eddie’s life. This is because Eddie always feels that Ruby Pier is the main reason that keeps him away from happiness. Surprisingly, during his meeting with Ruby, Eddie is shocked to find his father, though they are unable to interact with each other because his father is just an image produced by Ruby. She takes him to a scene in his family's kitchen where an old friend of his father's, Mickey Shea, attempts to assault his mother. His father comes home and chases Mickey with a hammer but ends up rescuing him from an attempted suicide. Ruby tells Eddie that his father is angry but that he can't let an old friend die without trying to save him. Ruby tells him that anger is self ‒ destructive and that he must forgive (just like his father when he forgave Mickey Shea). Eddie goes back to his father and kneels beside him. Although his father cannot hear him, Eddie tells him that he has forgiven him and everything is “fixed”. However, the twisted truth is, Ruby is indirectly causing Eddie’s death – the truth will unravel at the end of the story. 

“So, why am I here?” he said. “I mean, your story, the fire, it all happened before I was born.”

“Things that happen before you are born still affect you,” she said. “And people who come before your time affect you as well.” 

She tapped her fingertips together. “If not for Emile, I would have no husband. If not for our marriage, there would be no pier. If there’d been no pier, you would not have ended up working there.” 

The fourth person Eddie meets is someone he misses dearly, which is his wife, Marguerite. Their relationship was a rewarding and fulfilling one although it went through a bad period where it almost ruined their relationship. Eventually, they got past the damage that had been done, and for the last three years before she died of a brain tumour, they were once again close and supportive. Now that they have a happy reunion in Heaven, Eddie expresses his weak side to Marguerite. The fourth lesson that he learns from this encounter is that love can be everlasting. Although life has to end, love will stay forever. 

“Life has to end,” she said. “Love doesn’t.”
“I never wanted anyone else,” he said quietly.
“I know,” she said.
“I know.” She nodded. “I felt it.”
“Here?” he asked.
“Even here,” she said, smiling. “That’s how strong lost love can be.” 

The fifth person Eddie meets is a little girl named Tala, whom he tried to rescue in the burning tent in the Philippines during the war. He feels so remorseful of killing her that he broke into tears. She asks him to take a stone and wash her burnt body, just like what her mother always did when she was still alive. When he does, all the damage done by the fire is washed away. She asks him why he was so unhappy on earth, and he tells her it was because he never accomplished anything. She tells him that he was supposed to be there, at Ruby Pier. His main responsibility is to keep the children safe on the rides. She was bringing him to Heaven to keep him safe, just like when he is keeping the children in Ruby Pier safe. At last, Eddie feels peace. Eddie is then transported back to Marguerite to spend eternity with her at the home of Heaven.

“Why are you here, in heaven?” he asked.
 “You burn me. You make me fire.” She said. 

The ending is marvelous as well as the readers can see that when one man died, the life of other people still continues like usual. Just like before, Eddie is waiting patiently for someone to meet him in heaven. He has also becomes the five person you meet in heaven. 

[Source 1: Bookrags]
[Source 2: Wikipedia

Personally, I think that Mitch Albom has written another amazing story and I really love to read this book. The concept of heaven is depicted in this story and although it is Albom’s own imagination, the readers can feel the warmth of love which surrounds this story. Before I end my review, I would like to add other people’s opinion about this novel. Besides, for those who want to watch the movie of the five people you meet in heaven, I will also include the YouTube link below. I hope you will find enjoyment while reading the novel and while watching the movie. So, that’s it. Meet you again in my next book review. Happy reading everyone!

 What others have to say about this book?
  • "Simply told, sentimental, and profoundly true, this is a contemporary American fable that will be cherished by a vast readership." 
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • "A book with the genuine power to stir and comfort its readers." 
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

  • "There's much wisdom here . . . An earnest meditation on the intrinsic value of human life." 
—Los Angeles Times

  •  “Five meetings, five different and surprising truths that gradually unveil to Eddie one of the basic truths of life – that nobody is an island.” 
—Knihovnice  (Czech Republic,

  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven is an enthralling book: it’s full of surprising and sometimes shocking insights into the allegedly boring, uneventful life of an ordinary human being." 
—Norddeutscher Rundfunk, NDR (Germany)

  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven confirms Mitch Albom as a writer of worship who can reach millions of readers for his courage to openly ask questions about our existence" 
—El Mundo (Spain)

 [ Source 3: Critical Praise

 Mitch Albom talks about the five people you meet in heaven:

The full movie of the five people you meet in heaven (click on the link below the picture):

 [ Click Me!]

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