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Summary and book reviews of The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

The Five People You Meet In Heaven

by Mitch Albom

The Five People You Meet In Heaven
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2003, 198 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2006, 208 pages

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Book Summary

From the author of Tuesdays with Morrie, a novel that explores the unexpected connections of our lives, and the idea that heaven is more than a place; it's an answer.

From the author of the phenomenal #1 New York Times bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie, a novel that explores the unexpected connections of our lives, and the idea that heaven is more than a place; it's an answer.

Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It's a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie's five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his "meaningless" life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: "Why was I here?"

To the reader:

Eddie is an elderly war veteran, a widower who has worked his whole life at Ruby Pier, an old seaside amusement park. His job as the head of maintenance -- the same job his father once held - is to keep the rides safe. Although Eddie, a strong, quiet, barrel-chested guy, is beloved by the kids who come summer after summer, he sees his life as a string of meaningless days. He has done nothing significant, he feels, and has no hope of ever changing that.

On his 83rd birthday, a hot summer afternoon, Eddie is killed in the first accident to occur in all his time at the pier. A cart comes loose from its cable and Eddie dies trying to save a little girl before she is crushed. The following excerpt from "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" picks up after his last moments on earth, when everything goes white, then black.



The Journey

Where…?

Where….?

Where…?


The sky was a misty pumpkin shade, then a deep turquoise, then a bright lime....

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Discussion Questions
  1. At the start of The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Albom says that "all endings are also beginnings." In general, what does this mean? How does it relate to this story in particular? Share something in your life that has begun as another thing ended, and the events that followed.

  2. What initially grabs your attention in The Five People You Meet in Heaven? What holds it?

  3. How does counting down the final minutes of Eddie's life affect you as a reader? Why does Albom do this? Other storytelling devices Albom uses include moving from past to present by weaving Eddie's birthdays throughout the story. How do these techniques help inform the story? What information do you learn by moving around...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

The Five People... is at BookBrowse because it more than met the criteria of having received exceptionally good reviews (even from tough critics such as Janet Maslin in the New York Times), and certainly visitors appreciate it (the reader reviews are glowing). However, at the risk of being exposed as the cynic I am, I found it fairly hard going. I think I would have been happier if it had been titled 'The Two People You Meet in Heaven', or perhaps at a stretch, 'The Three People', because by the time Eddie met his 4th person I was beginning to feel that the point was being labored just a bit.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews
Library Journal - Mary K. Bird-Guilliams

Morrie fans will want to read this first novel, and readers daring to examine their own lives may enjoy as well. For all public libraries.

People Magazine

Fans of Tuesdays with Morrie will be delighted with this novel.

New York Times - Janet Maslin

Sincere. . . . A book with the genuine power to stir and comfort its readers.

Booklist - Brad Hooper

....the novel's "point" is that apparently insignificant lives do indeed have their own special kind of significance. A sweet book that makes you smile but is not gooey with overwrought sentiment.

Publishers Weekly

...this wonderful title should grace national fiction bestseller lists for a long time.

Reader Reviews
Nick

Moving
Read it.

taylor

Beautiful
I was forced to read this book, and at first I really didn't want to. Reading further, though, I found that this book is a mix of simple lessons, and wonderfully woven sentences that bring me to the verge of tears. I recommend this book to readers ...   Read More

Ann

Such a wonderful book!
The book The Five People You Meet in Heaven was written by Mitch Albom, who is the same author who wrote the famous book Tuesdays with Morrie. It brings you into a place that we each have dreamed about: heaven. In this book there is a character...   Read More

Catherine

BBE(Best book so far)
"The Five People You in Heaven" is a great book. I had to a book report on it and I loved it. Too bad I haven't seen the movie yet:)

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Beyond the Book

Mitch Albom had published a handful of books before he hit paydirt with Tuesdays With Morrie in 1997 which, surprisingly, far outsold Morrie Schwartz's own book, Morrie: In His Own Words which had been published earlier.

Albom says that the lead character in The Five People... was inspired by his uncle, Edward Beitchman, who was also a World War II veteran, who also died at 83, and also lived a life like that of the fictional character, rarely leaving his home city, and often feeling that he didn't accomplish what he should have.

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