The Five People You Meet in Heaven

by

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Author: Albom, Mitch

Title: The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Genre: Inspirational fiction      

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages:  196 (hardcover edition)

Geographical Setting: United States; an amusement park town near “a great gray ocean”; The Philippines; heaven 

Time Period: early 21st century

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: The only time Eddie’s life makes headlines is when he dies on his 83rd birthday, attempting to rescue an 8-year-old girl from the crush of an amusement park ride at the seaside carnival where he works as a maintenance man. It is his death that opens this brief novel, which contains a series of life lessons that Eddie learns after reaching heaven. Eddie believes his life didn’t matter: he didn’t accomplish anything “big”; he spent most of his life maintaining the amusement rides at Ruby Pier after being wounded in the war; and he doesn’t think he belongs in heaven. But in heaven he meets five spirits—some of whose lives he barely intersected while alive–who help him understand that all lives have meaning as well as other truisms. Heaven, as one of the spirits tells him, is for “understanding your life on earth.” Like It’s a Wonderful Life, the protagonist comes to understand that his life has meaning and the interconnectedness of life—the way one life touches and changes another. A quick read that aims for the heart, this novel should appeal to those who like inspirational stories with life lessons.

Subject Headings: Accident victims; Afterlife; Amusement parks; Death; Fiction; Future life; Heaven; Inspirational fiction; Life lessons; Older men;

Appeal: accessible; consoling; direct; earnest; elegiac; emotional; heartwarming; hopeful; mystical; life-affirming; quasi-philosophical; sentimental; simple; spiritual; sympathetic; thought-provoking; timeless;

Relevant Fiction: Dickens, Charles. A Christmas Carol. (The meaning of life, life lessons, an older man’s life seen in retrospect, sentimental, lessons learned from spirits.) Sebold, Alice. The Lovely Bones. (Heaven, the afterlife, sympathetic protagonist, the interconnectedness of life, but more literary.)  Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist. (Truisms, fable-like, simple, direct, life lessons, spiritual messengers, inspirational.)

Relevant Nonfiction: Chopra, Deepak. Life After Death. (Death as part of journey,  the afterlife, comforting.) Pausch, Randy. The Last Lecture. (Inspirational, life lessons, how to live, life-affirming, elegiac.) Schwartz, Morrie. Morrie: In His Own Words. (The subject of Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie on death, the meaning of life, mortality. Inspirational, an older man’s life in retrospect, direct.)

Name: Laura

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