Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a special little novel that explores questions each of us wonder at some point in our lives: why am I here, what am I here for, what is the meaning of this little time I have on earth? The big questions about what our purpose in life is, answers to which can often feel impossible to find, especially for those that are disappointed with their lives, is something we are all trying to figure out throughout our lifetime.
Eddie, an old man still doing the same job as the maintenance guy of an amusement park, is our main character. At the start of the story he tragically falls to death when he tries to save a girl from a falling cart. It’s through what happens after his death, as we readers delve into Eddie’s past as he meets five special people who have affected his life in different ways in various settings of heaven, that the novel brings forth the idea how each moment in our lives makes up one story, a story that holds the true meaning of our lives. Eddie’s own discovery of his life meaning, which he finally understands by the end of the novel, is incredibly moving to read.
The structure of the novel provides necessary details of Eddie’s past (always set on his birthday on which, naturally, many important things occurred) and moves between this past snippets to Eddie’s meeting with the five different people he met in heaven. I found the interactions between Eddie and his five fascinating. They really added layers to the his story as the book went on, and it was wonderful to read. One specific chapter I enjoyed the most, though I won’t give it away.
Albom’s writing style is subtle and readable, but holds many complex ideas about the world, love, identity and loneliness, among other things, under the surface. His words are lovely to read and there were so many quotes that made me pause a moment and think. Especially so in the last sections of the novel, which really opened my mind to what the novel had been working towards in terms of its meaning and explorations of life, death and everything in between. A little gem of a novel that everyone should read :).