Saturday, September 6, 2008

Five People You Meet In Heaven

Book: The Five People You Meet In Heaven
Author: Mitch Albom
Edition: Hyperion, Hardback
Read: July 2008
196 pages
Rated: 3
out of 5

First, this book is not about theology or religion. It is a vehicle for Albom to remind us of certain truths—effects upon our lives which others have. He uses a relatively insignificant life and death to illustrate the power our lives have on those around us.

Albom takes the life of an ordinary person-a repairman at an amusement park called Ruby’s Pier. He dies while trying to save a little girl from a falling ride at the park. The story weaves his life, full of unfulfilled hopes, which looks like it has little meaning. When he dies he meets five people who have waited for him to die. These five people help him to see his life from a different perspective.

Even though Albom’s book is largely secular, it is head to escape religious statements, such as “understand your life” is God’s greatest gift. From the quotes below, it appears the Albom is more of a person who would subscribe to certain fuzzy philosophies—the oneness of us all, We start as pristine people and are warped with our environments, …

  • Lesson one-We are all connected—even if we do not know it. This was brought to Eddie by a man he did not know, but which saved his life by dying himself. Nothing spectacular—just avoiding Eddie while driving, and dying of a heart attack. Lesson? We are just family; we have not realized it yet.
  •  Lesson two-Sometimes the bad we experience prevents the greater bad. In this case Eddie was a POW. He escapes with others. As the group sets fire and the place burns, Eddie thinks he sees a child in a burning building. As Eddie tries to go into the building, he is shot—by his own captain—in order to save Eddie. Eddie only knows this in heaven after spending 60 years in pain, bitter for having it happen to him.
  •  Lesson three-Anger and hatred hurts yourself; forgiveness is the key. Ruby of Ruby Pier appears to Eddie and shows him a side of his father—loyalty to friends and family which he had not seen of his father.
  • Lesson four-Life ends; love does not. Eddie gets to spend time with his wife who has died around 35 years earlier. He realizes she is what made his life bearable. When she died, there was loneliness. She comforts him by having him understand that the love never died only took a different form.
  • Lesson five-We are put here for a reason. Eddie faces a beautiful child—a little girl. As he realizes who she is—the same child who he tried to rescue and who he had set afire in lesson two, the girl changes into a scabbed creature. He washes away the scars and he finds his life was not a waste. After 80 plus years, his final act in life was to save a life. His final task? To meet her and be one of her five people.
This is not a bad book to read. It is a simply written moral story stating we need to appreciate those around us. Not a bad story line to portray. The lessons Albom brings out are good reminders, but nothing more than what you would hear on Sunday mornings. So does he do it well? In a way causing you to think? Uniquely? Compellingly? He tells a somewhat flat story from an interesting vantage point. I personally do not find how he tells the story as something I want to go out and change my approach to things.

So to a person who does not have the connectiveness of a good religious community, this book may upon up some avenues of thought.

Good Quotes:
  • Pg 49 – Strangers are just family you have yet to come to know.
  • Pg 50 – No life is a waste. The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.
  • Pg 104 – All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.
  • Pg 113 – You have peace when you make it with yourself.
  • Pg 126 – Parents rarely et go of their children, so children let go of them.
  • Pg 173 – Lost love is still love. It takes a different form, that’s all….Life has to end, love doesn’t.
- Mitch Albom’s Web Site

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