Eddie is an octogenarian who works at Ruby Pier, an amusement park near the ocean. He has worked there for most of his life, except during a brief interlude when he went to war. Discharged from the army due to a crippling injury, he goes back to work at Ruby Pier and marries Marguerite, the only woman he has ever loved—who died of cancer at a relatively young age, leaving Eddie utterly alone in the world except for his work acquaintances.
Eddie died of an accident at Ruby Pier when a ride cart fell on him. He died trying to save a child from the cart.
Upon his arrival in heaven, Eddie starts meeting people—five people actually—who played a role in shaping who he was. Those people clarify his purpose in life and force him to confront his past and make peace with it.
I love this book. I loved it years ago when I read it for the first time, then I re-read it and found it good, but I realized by reading it again with the purpose of reviewing it that one has to be in a specific frame of mind to truly appreciate its magic, its philosophical meaning.
The first time I read it, as now, I was feeling blue due to certain situations in my life that I’d been confronting and hadn’t been able to resolve. The first time, as now, I found this book cathartic; it made me cry so deeply that I found Eddie’s story relatable. I believe in heaven. I believe in Final Judgment whatever form it may take, and to be honest sometimes I wonder if God likes me. This book describes a kind of heaven I would like, one in which I'm explained situations confronted in life to revisit lessons and make sense of it all and find the peace needed to move on.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom is about making peace with your past and releasing feelings that may prevent you from becoming the best one can be and that’s the beauty of this book.
You may or may not believe in heaven, or God, but philosophically speaking we all need to feel that our lives have had meaning and that’s the greatest lesson to take from this book.
“The Blue Man smiled. ‘No, Edward. You are here so I can teach you something. All the people you meet here have one thing to teach you.’
Eddie was skeptical. His fists stayed clenched.
‘What?’ he said.
‘That 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 breeze from the wind.’” Page 47-48
“’Wait,’ Eddie said, pulling back. ‘Just tell me one thing. Did I save the little girl? At the pier. Did I save her?’
The Blue Man did not answer. Eddie slumped. ‘Then my death was a waste, just like my life.’
‘No life is a waste,’ the Blue Man said. ‘The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.’” Page 50
“’That’s the thing. Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.’” Page 94