Yelda Basar Moers's Reviews > The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
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Apr 27, 2011

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bookshelves: mind-body, spirituality

Lately, heaven as been a hot topic, as Todd Burpo’s Heaven is for Real has hit number one on the New York Times Best Seller list, Don Piper’s memoir 90 Minutes in Heaven remains wildly successful, and Rob Bell’s LOVE WINS: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, is the talk of the spiritual town. And in that circle of books about heaven is Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The concept of this novel is imaginative: Eddie, a carnival mechanic, dies and upon reaching heaven meets five people who each teach him a lesson that gets him closer to understanding the purpose and meaning of his life. With the last lesson, he fully grasps why he was put on earth.

My biggest problem with the book was that I didn’t find it believable. I’m not sure if the culprit was its flat characters, or its simplistic plot, or its structure, or if it was the character of Eddie himself, whose portrayal I found cliché: a widowed, struggling mechanic, who has nothing going for him. Most importantly, though, I didn’t feel that the author was able to make his version of heaven real. I’ll admit that it was refreshing to read a picture of heaven that is different from a cloud puffed haven where beings look down on earth. But the heaven depicted by Albom, I simply couldn’t picture it in my mind. Plus, none of the “lessons” were anything I hadn’t heard of before.

Things that worked: strong writing, an innovative and appealing idea, and a comforting concept for those of us who have recently had loved ones pass. Also touching is the idea that everyone’s life, no matter what they chose to do with it, matters equally in the higher realm. The highlight of the story is when Eddie meets his wife (the fourth person), who gives him the lesson of love. She tells him that when a loved one dies, that love is still there, but it just takes a different form. “Memory becomes your partner,” she says. “You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it. Life has to end. Love doesn’t.”

The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a quick and uplifting read, so I’d still recommend it for those interested in the afterlife, existential ideas, or the mysterious inner workings of the universe.

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