If you aren’t afraid of some good old fashioned sentimentality then this is the story for you. Mitch Albom, the super talented writer who gave us the bestselling memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie, writes another winner with his second novel, The five People You meet in Heaven. Like the title suggests, Albom explores life from the perspective of the Other Side. It isn’t as spooky or as mournful as it sounds. Instead, this novel has that heart-warming American charm which spirits the reader away into a world of fantasy, love and happily ever after. Think of this novel as a cross between It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol and you wont be disappointed. In other words, it’s a classic.
So what’s the story? The Five People You Meet in Heaven chronicles the life and death of Eddie, a maintenance man at Ruby Pier amusement park. Dying a hero saving a little girl from a falling ride, Eddie is reintroduced to five people he once knew. It is through these five visitations that he is able to face past regret and seek some much needed absolution.
You’ll find the book’s beauty lies in its language, “Stars appeared, millions of stars, like the salt sprinkled across the greenish firmament.” Albom’s writing is extremely poetic. He never fails to include all the sensory experiences the characters have during the story. He gives a crystal clear image of heaven without being schmaltzy or unoriginal.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven explores how individual actions have a deep and sometimes devastating effect on other lives. It touches upon themes like the American Dream through Eddie’s recollections of childhood and the perils of old age. World War II is dramatised in a harrowing painful way to show the damaging effects war can have. And most importantly – love is a theme strongly recognised in this novel, whether that is portrayed romantically through Eddie’s wife, or through the comradeship of soldiers, or the lack of love between a father and son.
This is a thought provoking novel which captures your imagination. At the finish you may even ask yourself – who would my five people be?