Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

This 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.

It is enjoyable but, feels very patronizing and condescending.  It is the age old theme of realizing that we are all connected to another so that an action undertaken by one person is destined to have an unanticipated and drastic influence upon someone else. Along these same lines, the book reminds us of how easy it is to fail to express appreciation or gratitude to those we love until it is too late to do so.  True themes that have been covered before.

Rating: 3.2 OK