December Bookclub Review: The Five People You Meet in Heaven
Published by Time Warner Books
‘All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time…’
On his eighty-third birthday, Eddie, a lonely war veteran, dies in a tragic accident trying to save a little girl from a falling cart. With his final breath, he feels two small hands in his – and then nothing. He awakens in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a lush Garden of Eden but a place where your earthly life is explained to you by five people who were in it. These people may have been loved ones or distant strangers. Yet each of them changed your path forever.
The second choice for House of Blog’s Bookclub is an old favourite of mine – The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. If you’ve never read any Albom, think of a heartwarming fiction writer with a dash of Paolo Coehlo spirituality. His more famous novels, as well as this one, include Tuesdays with Morrie and For One More Day.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven is the story of Eddie, who dies trying to save a girl from a falling Ferris wheel cart. When he arrives in the afterlife, he discovers that before he can gain entry to heaven, he must meet five people who have affected his life in some way, and have his life explained to him.
The concept of this is beautiful. The idea that you get to revisit the important people (whether you realise it or not) in your life is a gorgeous one, and I love the idea that you get to understand everything you have been through, despite it seeming so innocuous at the time.
This is a novel that both uplifts you and breaks your heart in one fell swoop. Eddie as a character is one of the most loveable I have ever encountered – he’s a complete sweetheart, someone you imagine to be a grandad with interesting stories and sneaks you sweets and a fiver when your parents aren’t looking. The fact you never get to meet him when he’s alive makes it all the more bittersweet. You get to know him through the eyes of the five people he meets and a fuller picture of his character as he matches his vision of himself with theirs.
The final person of the five is the bit where I sobbed (and have sobbed with every repeat read). I cannot and will not give it away because it makes the whole book just one complete, perfect story. This is a book you could read in a day if you have some free time, or you can choose to pick over it slowly. At just 208 pages, it’s hardly a great literary tome, but it’s more memorable than so many 500+ page books I’ve read. It lives with you – not in the haunting way that means you keep thinking about it, but in a way that you want to keep the memory of it with you at all times. As a precious thing.
What did you think of The Five People You Meet in Heaven?
January’s House of Blog Bookclub is Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.