The Five People You Meet in Heaven

( 1363 )

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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?"

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Editorial Reviews

Cleveland Plain Dealer
Albom has a gift for tapping into readers' sincerely sentimental spots, and he will undoubtedly connect again here.
Boston Globe
Albom has the ability to make you cry in spite of yourself.
Los Angeles Times
There's much wisdom here . . . An earnest meditation on the intrinsic value of human life.
Janet Maslin
Sincere. . . . A book with the genuine power to stir and comfort its readers.
New York Times
People Magazine
Fans of Tuesdays with Morrie will be delighted with this novel.
Publishers Weekly
"At the time of his death, Eddie was an old man with a barrel chest and a torso as squat as a soup can," writes Albom, author of the bestselling phenomenon Tuesdays with Morrie, in a brief first novel that is going to make a huge impact on many hearts and minds. Wearing a work shirt with a patch on the chest that reads "Eddie" over "Maintenance," limping around with a cane thanks to an old war injury, Eddie was the kind of guy everybody, including Eddie himself, tended to write off as one of life's minor characters, a gruff bit of background color. He spent most of his life maintaining the rides at Ruby Pier, a seaside amusement park, greasing tracks and tightening bolts and listening for strange sounds, "keeping them safe." The children who visited the pier were drawn to Eddie "like cold hands to a fire." Yet Eddie believed that he lived a "nothing" life-gone nowhere he "wasn't shipped to with a rifle," doing work that "required no more brains than washing a dish." On his 83rd birthday, however, Eddie dies trying to save a little girl. He wakes up in heaven, where a succession of five people are waiting to show him the true meaning and value of his life. One by one, these mostly unexpected characters remind him that we all live in a vast web of interconnection with other lives; that all our stories overlap; that acts of sacrifice seemingly small or fruitless do affect others; and that loyalty and love matter to a degree we can never fathom. Simply told, sentimental and profoundly true, this is a contemporary American fable that will be cherished by a vast readership. Bringing into the spotlight the anonymous Eddies of the world, the men and women who get lost in our cultural obsession with fame and fortune, this slim tale, like Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, reminds us of what really matters here on earth, of what our lives are given to us for. Backed by a $500,000 marketing campaign that includes a 30-city author tour, and boosted by the good will that millions will feel when they see Albom's name on the cover, this wonderful title should grace national fiction bestseller lists for a long time. Simultaneous Hyperion Audiobook, BOMC main selection. (One-day laydown Sept. 23) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Sports columnist, radio talk-show host, and author of Tuesdays with Morrie, Albom has written a parable quite different from his best-selling memoir about his old professor but with the potential to follow it as a favorite of the book club circuit. At an oceanside amusement part, 83-year-old maintenance mechanic Eddie is killed while trying to save a little girl. Instead of floating through the cliched tunnel-and-light territory, Eddie meets five people whose lives intersected with his during his time on Earth. The novel comes down firmly on the side of those who feel that life matters, that what we do as individuals matters, and that in the end there will be a quiz. The touchy-feely phobic need not be afraid: this is not judgmental ax-grinding; nor does it favor any religion. Before you finish reading, you can't help thinking about your own life-Albom's whole point, of course. 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.-Mary K. Bird-Guilliams, Wichita P.L., KS Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401308582
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 657
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Mitch  Albom

Mitch Albom is an author, playwright, and screenwriter who has written seven books, including the international bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie, the bestselling memoir of all time. His first novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, was an instant number-one New York Times bestseller that has since sold more than six million copies worldwide. Both books were made into acclaimed TV films. Mitch also works as a columnist and a broadcaster, and serves on numerous charitable boards. He lives with his wife, Janine, in Michigan.

Biography

You might call Mitch Albom a jock-of-all-trades. Before becoming one of America's most beloved sport commentators and columnists, Albom was an amateur boxer, a nightclub singer and pianist, and a stand-up comedian. He is a nationally syndicated fixture of radio and print, and has been featured as an analyst on ESPN. He has covered college football and college basketball in two successful nonfiction books, and the best of his articles have been collected in a series of anthologies called Live Albom. However, what catapulted Albom into the literary limelight was the mega-selling 1997 memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie, his first book to sidestep sports altogether..

Tuesdays... is a moving account of Albom's reconnection with his old Brandeis professor and college mentor, Morrie Schwartz. After learning Schwartz had been stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease, Albom sought him out in Boston, and throughout a long, harrowing year, they spent every Tuesday together. As he faced his inevitable death, Schwartz shared a lifetime of memories, regrets, fears, and philosophical insights with his former student. A story that could easily have toppled into maudlin sentimentality, the memoir succeeded in large part because of Albom's skillful writing. Published in 30 languages in 34 countries, the book remains an international bestseller.

In 2003, Albom forayed into fiction with The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the emotionally resonant story of an old man who dies, convinced his life has had no meaning -- only to discover that nothing could be further from the truth. It, too, scored a huge success for the author – as did his followup novel, For One Day More.

Good To Know

The Oprah Winfrey-produced version of Tuesdays with Morrie, starring Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria, won 4 Emmy Awards and was the most-watched TV movie of 1999.

Before Albom was a household name, he was known on the comedy circuit as the warm-up act for Gabe "Welcome Back Kotter" Kaplan.

Albom is an enthusiastic philanthropist, having founded two charitable programs, the Dream Fund and A Time to Help.

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    1. Hometown:
      Franklin, Michigan
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 23, 1958
    2. Place of Birth:
      Passaic, New Jersey
    1. Education:
      B.A., Brandeis University, 1979; M.J., Columbia University, 1981; M.B.A., Columbia University, 1982

Read an Excerpt

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. Eddie was floating, and his arms were still extended.

Where…?

The tower cart was falling. He remembered that. The little girl -- Amy? Annie? -- she was crying. He remembered that. He remembered lunging. He remembered hitting the platform. He felt her two small hands in his.

Then what?

Did I save her?

Eddie could only picture it in a distance, as if it happened years ago. Stranger still, he could not feel any emotions that went with it. He could only feel calm, like a child in the cradle of its mother's arms.

Where…?

The sky around him changed again, to grapefruit yellow, then a forest green, then a pink which Eddie momentarily associated with, of all things, cotton candy.

Did I save her?

Did she live?

Where…

…is my worry?

Where is my pain??

That was what was missing. Every hurt he'd ever suffered, every ache he'd ever endured -- it was all as gone as an expired breath. He could not feel agony. He could not feel sadness. His consciousness felt smoky, wisp-like, incapable of anything but calm. Below him now, the colors changed again. Something was swirling. Water. An ocean. He was floating over a vast yellow sea. Now it turned melon. Now it was sapphire. Now he began to drop, hurtling towards the surface. It was faster than anything he'd ever imagined, yet there wasn't as much as a breeze on his face, and he felt no fear. He saw the sands of a golden shore.

Then he was under water.

Then everything was silent.

Where is my worry?

Where is my pain?

The Arrival

Eddie awoke in a teacup.

It was a part of some old amusement park ride -- a large teacup, made of dark polished wood, with a cushioned seat and a steel hinged door. Eddie's arms and legs dangled over the edges. The sky continued to change colors, from a shoe leather brown to a deep scarlet.

His instinct was to reach for his cane. He had kept it by his bed the last few years, because there were mornings when he no longer had the strength to get up without it. This embarrassed Eddie, who used to punch men in the shoulders when he greeted them.

But now there was no cane, so Eddie exhaled and tried to pull himself up. Surprisingly, his back did not hurt. His leg did not throb. He yanked harder and hoisted himself easily over the edge of the teacup, landing awkwardly on the ground, where he was struck by three quick things.

First, he felt wonderful.

Second, he was all alone.

Third, he was still on Ruby Pier.

But it was a different Ruby Pier now. There were canvas tents and large grassy sections and so few obstructions you could see the mossy breakwater out in the ocean. The colors of the attractions were firehouse reds and creamy whites - no teals or maroons --and each ride had its own wooden ticket booth. The teacup he had awoken in was part of an old attraction called Spin-O-Rama. The sign was plywood, as were other low-slung signs, hinged on storefronts that lined the promenade:

El Tiempo Cigars! Now, That's A Smoke!
Chowder, 10 cents!
Ride The Whipper -- The Sensation of the Age!

Eddie blinked hard. This was the Ruby Pier of his childhood, some 75 years ago, only everything was new, freshly scrubbed. Over there was the Loop The Loop ride -- which had been torn down decades ago -- and over there the bathhouses and the saltwater swimming pools which had been razed in the 1950's. Over there, jutting into the sky, was the original Ferris wheel -- in its pristine white paint -- and beyond that the streets of his old neighborhood and the rooftops of the crowded brick tenements, with laundry lines hanging from the windows.

Eddie tried to yell, but his voice was raspy air. He mouthed a "Hey!" but nothing came from his throat.

He grabbed at his arms and legs. Aside from his lack of voice, he felt incredible, as pain-free as a first grader. He walked in a circle, then a backwards circle. He jumped. No pain. In the last ten years, he had forgotten what it was like to walk without wincing, or to sit without struggling to find comfort for his lower back. On the outside, he looked the same as it had that morning: a squat, barrel-chested old man in a cap and shorts and a brown maintenance jersey. But he was limber.

So limber, in fact, he could touch behind his ankles, and raise a leg to his belly. He explored his body like an infant, fascinated by the new mechanics, a rubber man doing a rubber man stretch.

Then he ran.

He ran down the heart of the old midway, where the weight guessers, fortune tellers and dancing gypsies had once worked. He lowered his chin and held his arms out like a glider and every few steps he would jump, the way children do, hoping running will turn to flying. It might have seemed ridiculous to anyone watching, this stout old man in a brown maintenance jersey, all alone, making like an airplane. But the running boy is inside every man, no matter how old he gets.

*

And then Eddie stopped running. He heard something. A voice, tinny, as if coming through a megaphone.

"How about him, ladies and gentlemen? Have you ever seen such a horrible sight?..."

Eddie was standing by an empty ticket kiosk in front of large theater. The sign above read

"The World's Most Curious Citizens.''
Ruby Pier's Sideshow!
Holy Smoke! They're Fat! They're Skinny!
See The Wild Man!

The sideshow. The freak house. The ballyhoo hall. Eddie recalled them shutting this down at least 50 years ago, about the time television became popular and people didn't need sideshows to tickle their imagination.

"Look well upon this savage, born into a most peculiar handicap…"

Eddie peered into the entrance. He had encountered some odd people here. There was Jolly Jane, who weighed over 500 pounds and needed two men to push her up the stairs. There were conjoined twin sisters, who shared a spine and played musical instruments. There were men who swallowed swords, women with beards, and a pair of Indian brothers whose skin went rubbery from being stretched and soaked in oils, so it hung in bunches from their limbs.

Eddie felt sorry for the sideshow cast. They were forced to sit in booths or on stages, sometimes behind bars, as patrons walked past them, leering and pointing. A barker would ballyhoo the oddity, and it was a barker's voice that Eddie heard now.

"Only a terrible twist of fate could leave a man in such a pitiful condition! From the farthest corner of the world, we have brought him for your examination…"

Eddie entered the darkened hall. The voice grew louder.

"This tragic soul has endured a perversion of nature…"

It was coming from the other side of a stage.

"Only here, at the World's Most Curious Citizens, can you draw this near…"

Eddie stepped up to the curtain.

"Feast your eyes upon the most unus--"

The barker's voice vanished. And Eddie stepped back in disbelief.

There, sitting in a chair, alone on the stage, was a middle-aged man with narrow stooped shoulders, naked from the waist up. His belly sagged over his belt. His hair was closely-cropped. His lips were thin and his face was long and drawn. Eddie would have long since forgotten him, were it not for one distinctive feature.

His skin was blue.

"Hello, Edward," he said. "I have been waiting for you."

*

THE FIRST PERSON EDDIE MEETS IN HEAVEN

"Don't be afraid…" the Blue Man said, rising slowly from his chair, "don't be afraid…"

His voice was soothing, but Eddie could only stare. He had barely known this man. Why was he seeing him now? He was like one of those faces that pops into your dreams and the next morning you say, 'You'll never guess who I dreamed about last night."

"Your body feels like a child's, right?"

Eddie nodded.

"You were a child when you knew me, that's why. You start with the same feelings you had."

Start what? Eddie thought.

The Blue Man lifted his chin. His skin was a grotesque shade, a graying blueberry. His fingers were wrinkled. He walked outside. Eddie followed. The pier was empty. The beach was empty. Was the entire planet empty?

"Tell me something," the Blue Man said. He pointed to a two-humped wooden roller coaster in the distance. The Whipper. It was built in the 1920's, before under-friction wheels, meaning the cars couldn't turn very quickly -- unless you wanted them launching off the track. "The Whipper. Is it still the fastest ride?"

Eddie looked at the old, clanking thing, which had been torn down years ago. He shook his head no.

"Ah," the Blue Man said. "I imagined as much. Things don't change here. And there's none of that peering down from the clouds, I'm afraid."

Here? Eddie thought.

The Blue Man smiled as if he'd heard the question. He touched Eddie's shoulder and Eddie felt a surge of warmth unlike anything he had ever felt before. His thoughts came spilling out like sentences.

How did I die?

"An accident," the Blue Man said.

How long have I been dead?

"A minute. An hour. A thousand years."

Where am I?

The Blue Man pursed his lips then repeated the question thoughtfully. "Where are you?"

He turned and raised his arms. All at once, the rides at Ruby Pier cranked to life: the Ferris Wheel spun, the Dodgem cars smacked into each other, the Whipper clacked uphill, and the Parisian Carousel horses bobbed on their brass poles to the cheery music of the Wurlizter Organ. The ocean was in front of them. The sky was the color of lemons.

"Where do you think?" the Blue Man asked. "Heaven."

*

No! Eddie shook his head violently. NO! The Blue Man seemed amused.

"No? It can't be heaven?" he said. "Why? Because this is where you grew up?"

Eddie mouthed the word, "Yes."

"Ah." The Blue Man nodded. "Well. People often belittle the places they were born. But heaven can be found in the most unlikely corners. And heaven itself has many steps. This, for me, is the second. And for you, the first."

He led Eddie through the park, passing cigar shops and sausage stands and the "flat joints," where suckers lost their nickels and dimes.

Heaven? Eddie thought. Ridiculous. He had spent most of his adult life trying to get away from Ruby Pier. It was an amusement park, that's all, a place to scream and get wet and trade your dollars for kewpie dolls. The thought that this was some kind of blessed resting place was beyond his imagination.

He tried again to speak, and this time heard a small grunt from his chest. The Blue Man turned.

"Your voice will come. We all go through the same thing. You cannot talk when you first arrive."

He smiled. "It helps you listen."

*

"There are five people you meet in heaven," the Blue Man suddenly said. "Each of us was in your life for a reason. You may not have known the reason at the time, and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth."

Eddie looked confused.

"People think of heaven as a paradise garden, a place where they can float on clouds and laze in rivers and mountains. But scenery without solace is meaningless.

"This is the greatest gift God can give you: to understand what happened in your life. To have it explained. It is the peace you have been searching for."

Eddie coughed, trying to bring up his voice. He was tired of being silent.

"I am your first person, Edward. When I died, my life was illuminated by five others, and then I came here to wait for you, to stand in your line, to tell you my story, which becomes part of yours. There will be others for you, too. Some you knew, maybe some you didn't. But they all crossed your path before they died. And they altered it forever."

Eddie pushed a sound up from his chest, as hard as he could.

"What…" he finally croaked.

His voice seemed to be breaking through a shell, like a baby chick.

"What…killed…"

The Blue Man waited patiently.

"What…killed…you?"

The Blue Man looked a bit surprised. He smiled at Eddie.

"You did," he said.

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Reading Group Guide

Our Book Club Recommendation
Mitch Albom's novel The Five People You Meet in Heaven partakes of an ancient genre of imaginative literature: the fable. More than other kinds of stories, fables draw our attention from the particular details of the characters' lives and actions to more universal concerns. Though less direct than a lesson or a parable, a fable is nevertheless aimed at uncovering vital truths about big questions -- in this case, about how we understand meaning and purpose in our lives. Albom's novel, like the best fables, creates a story that at once involves memorable characters and reaches out with a sense of universal relevance. Reading groups will find this magic-inflected book to be at once an absorbing story of a particular man named Eddie, and an open invitation to discuss its themes of love, grief, and the struggle to find our place in the universe.

Based partially on the author's uncle, a plainspoken veteran of World War II, Eddie is a man who has worked, almost all of his adult life and into old age, as a maintenance man at a timeworn amusement park called Ruby Pier. He is dogged by the sense that he hasn't made anything of his life -- that, in his own words, "I was nothing. I accomplished nothing...I felt like I wasn't supposed to be there." At the age of 83, Eddie is killed when a ride malfunctions and he attempts to save a little girl from being crushed. After the accident, he finds himself in an unexpected version of heaven -- a set of places he knows intimately from life -- and meets a surprising array of people, each of whom reveals to him a hidden aspect of his past.

These five meetings -- some of which are with people who are strangers to Eddie, others with people he knows intimately -- take this gruff but gentle man through the different stages of his life, and through each new person, some hidden truth is revealed. As Albom unfolds Eddie's story, he gradually sheds light on the web of connections between each individual and a world of strangers, so that life is revealed not as a straightforward story of what we have achieved but as a vast network, too large for us to perceive clearly from the inside. This theme, running throughout The Five People You Meet in Heaven, makes a perfect starting point for discussions of how these hidden linkages are at work in our own lives.

Moreover, this is also a novel that will invite conversations about the most moving and painful parts of life -- love, and the grief that accompanies the death of a loved one. Eddie's encounter with the person he most loved in the living world -- his wife, Marguerite -- is the emotional climax of the book, and Albom explores themes of longing and forgiveness in the encounter between the reunited lovers. In an interview with Barnes & Noble's Meet the Writers, Albom has said that after writing his memoir Tuesdays with Morrie -- which told the true story of his rekindled relationship with a dying former teacher -- he became the "repository" for the stories many readers told him about their own losses. The Five People You Meet in Heaven distills from those true stories a work of fiction that is perfectly pitched to touch upon our own feelings about both life and death -- and our attempts to make sense of both. Bill Tipper

Discussion Questions from the Publisher
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 in time? How effective is Albom's style for this story in particular?

4. What does Eddie look like and what kind of guy is he? Look at and discuss some of the details and descriptions that paint a picture of Eddie and his place of business. What is it about an amusement park that makes it a good backdrop for this story?

5. Consider the idea that "no story sits by itself. Sometimes stories meet at corners and sometimes they cover one another completely, like stones beneath a river." How does this statement relate to The Five People You Meet in Heaven?

6. How does Albom build tension around the amusement park ride accident? What is the significance of Eddie finding himself in the amusement park again after he dies? What is your reaction when Eddie realizes he's spent his entire life trying to get away from Ruby Pier and he is back there immediately after death? Do you think this is important? Why?

7. Describe what Albom's heaven is like. If it differs from what you imagined, share those differences. Who are the five people Eddie meets? Why them? What are their relationships to Eddie? What are the characteristics and qualities that make them the five people for Eddie?

8. Share your reactions and thoughts about the Blue Man's story, his relationship with his father, and his taking silver nitrate. What, if anything, does this have to do with Eddie? Why does he say to Eddie, "This is not your heaven, it's mine"?

9. How does the Blue Man die? What affect does it have on you when you look at the same story from two different points of view -– his and Eddie's? Can you share any events that you have been involved in that can be viewed entirely differently, from another's point of view? How aware are we of other's experiences of events that happen simultaneously to us and to them? Why?

10. Discuss what it means that "That there are no random acts. That we are all connected. That you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind." Even though Eddie hasn't been reincarnated, consider karma in Eddie's life (where Eddie's actions would affect his reincarnation). If it isn't karma, what is Albom telling us about life, and death?

11. Think about Eddie's war experiences and discuss your reactions to Albom's evocation of war. What did Eddie learn by being in war? How did he "come home a different man"? Why did the captain shoot Eddie? Explore what it means when the captain tells Eddie, "I took your leg to save your life." Why does the captain tell Eddie that sacrifice is not really a loss, but a gain? Examine whether or not Eddie understands this, and the significance of this lesson.

12. Discuss what you might say to Eddie when he asks "why would heaven make you relive your own decay?".

13. Examine whether or not you agree with the old woman when she tells Eddie, "You have peace when you make it with yourself," and why. Consider what she means when she says, "things that happen before you are born still affect you. And people who come before your time affect you as well." How does this relate to Eddie's life? Who are some who have come before you that have affected your own life?

14. What is Eddie's father's response each time Eddie decides to make an independent move, away from working at the pier? Examine how Eddie's father's choices and decisions actually shape Eddie's life. Why does Eddie cover for his father at the pier when his father becomes ill? What happens then? Share your own experience of a decision your own parents made that affected your life, for better or for worse.

15. Who tells Eddie that "we think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do we do to ourselves"? What is the significance of this particular person in Eddie's life? Why is this important for Eddie to understand? Is it important for all of us to understand? Why? Discuss whether or not you agree that, "all parents damage their children. It cannot be helped." How was Eddie damaged?

16. Why does Marguerite want to be in a place where there are only weddings? How does this relate to her own life, and to her relationship and life with Eddie?

17. Discuss why Eddie is angry at his wife for dying so young. Examine what Marguerite means when she says, "Lost love is still love. It takes a different form. You can't see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around on the dance floor. But when these senses waken, another heightens. . . . Life has an end. Love doesn't." Why does she say this to Eddie? Do you think he gets it? Discuss whether or not you agree with her, and why.

18. Why does Eddie come upon the children in the river? What does Tala mean when she says "you make good for me"? Discuss whether or not Eddie's life is a penance, and why. What is the significance of Tala pulling Eddie to safety after he dies? Why is it Tala that pulls him to heaven and not one of the other four?

19. What would you say to Eddie when he laments that he accomplished nothing with his life? Discuss what has he accomplished.

20. Briefly recall the five lessons Eddie learns. How might these be important for all of us? Share which five people might meet you in heaven, and what additional or different lessons might be important to your life. Discuss how Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven has provided you with a different perspective of your life.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1357 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2010

    A Gift to the Soul -- Highly Inspirational!

    The "Five People You Meet in Heaven," by Mitch Albom, conveys a riveting story about a maintenance man, Eddie, who works at an amusement park known as Ruby Pier. Eddie feels trapped in a meaningless life filled with loneliness, sadness, and regret. Years go by, and, as the park changes, he does too. However, on his 83rd birthday he dies trying to save a little girl from an amusement ride malfunction, thus changing his mundane life forever. He finds himself in heaven, but it is not as he expected it to be. Eddie discovers that it is a place where your earthly life is explained to you through five people in heaven. Each of these five people was either a loved one or a distant stranger interconnected with Eddie, who at some point changed his life forever. One by one, Eddie's five people put his life into perspective and show him that his life was not as meaningless as he thought. Eddie finally realizes the importance of interconnection, sacrifice, forgiveness, love, and life. As the story unfolds, the book flashes back to Eddie's birthdays, giving the story purpose and readers a deep connection with Eddie and his past. As each person passes, Eddie desperately searches for the answer to his last action of redemption on earth: Did he save the little girl? I would recommend this book to anyone who is searching for a quick read with a meaningful and inspirational message about the significance of life. Once you open the book, you will have difficulty putting it down. You will find yourself wondering what is going to happen next. If you like this book, you will enjoy "Tuesdays with Morrie," also by Mitch Albom.

    36 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2009

    a page turner

    Some people may not believe in heaven, but in The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Eddie experiences a journey thourgh heaven. Mitch Albom's fiction novel is intersting and page turning; the suspense is agonzing. This novel teachers readers that the littlest things can affect a person's life. After Eddie worked at Ruby Pier for a majority of his life, Eddie never would have thought that he would die at the place where he mostly lived.
    After Eddie died trying to save a little girl's life, he goes to heaven and has an unusual experience; Eddie meets five people that have affected him or vise versa. Each person takes him to a different place that is a part of his past. This book is a very original book that is not like any other book out there. It teaches valuable lessons such as everything happens for a reason and everyone makes some kind of sacrifice in their life.
    In The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Eddie learns important lessons and meets very important people. This book wuold probably interest adults due to its mature nature; children younger than 13 may not fully understand the messages. This book is very memorable and lovely. The Five People You Meet In Heaven gives readers a new persective on life and the people in it.

    15 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2011

    great book for all ages

    The only reason I even considered reading this book is because my friend said her older sister had to read it and she really liked it. I was at the bookstore one day and decided I would give it a try. I got home and read the first page. I then shut the book and set it on my bookshelf. It sat there and collected dust for about a year until I decided to start it agian. After I started it the second time, i couldn't set it down. I read the whole thing in about a week, just in class at school. I realized that this book had really given me a different outlook on life. That every decision I make has an impact on someone else's life, just as other people's decisions impact mine. I highly recommend this book to anyone, and everyone. It is very well written, and made me think in a totally new way.

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Sweet and touching!

    This is my very first book from Mitch Albom. It is very sweet and full of lessons. From his writing style, you can't say that he just sits down and writes all about it. Mr. Albom knows how to touch a human heart like an angel, so I if you have money, you better buy this book now.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I've had a meeting, this is the book I'll meat in heaven

    I had never tried any of Albom's books before. But my teacher suggested I read them a few months ago for the anniversary of my freedom from my pscyologist, so I read this. This book moved me in more ways than I could have imagined. I did not think it would be good by just looking at it at first, and I normally do not like short books, but this is more than what I could have asked for. This book was inspiring, motivating, happy, heart - wreaching, and all over amazaing. If I had to, I would re-read this book for the rest of my life. And of course I am very picky with my books, but this changed how I read books. I'm expanding from just Jodi Picoult, Ellen Hopkins, Lisi Harrison, and Libba Bray, Albom is now in the mix as well. I reccomend this to anyone who needs their spirits lifted or is going through a terrible rut.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    EXCELLENT READ!

    This was such a delightful book to read. Inspired by his uncle, Mitch Albom tells the story of a man leading an obscure life who died suddenly and tragically while trying to save a child. However, before he can pass on to eternity, Eddie was required to meet five people in heaven who would explain his purpose for living. With each encounter, Eddie learned as to why and how these unlikely people played a part in his life on earth. In the final encounter, Eddie was faced with the very thing that had been haunting him ever since he became a soldier during WWII.
    If heaven is anything like what Albom depicts then we can just imagine who we would meet. The book's message is that no matter how insignificant one's life may seem, there's a purpose and reason for it. Our life is not just one story but part of a great storyline that can never be fully told until we have completed our existence here on earth. One of my favorite line is "no life is a waste. The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone." How true that is. Yes life can be mundane, trying and just plain awful sometime, but if we could remind ourselves that there are others who share the same sentiment, perhaps we can be encouraged to keep going until the end

    7 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 25, 2010

    Great life lessons- HIGHLY recommended

    This book explains great life lessons. Such as how everyone is connected. I really enjoyed reading it. I read it in school and everyone in my class was truly listening. It is emotional and many times has you sitting on the edge of your seats. I recommend this book to anyone but especially women. It is about love and death, and just reflecting back on life. It has very interesting concepts. This author is an amazing writer and can write in such detail that you think you are really there. It is beatutifully written, and after finishing the book I went home and bought it on my nook and reread it. Reading it a second time opened my eyes up again to different parts I had not payed attention to the first time. It is a way to look at heavan through different eyes. It also is the authors opinion of what first happens when you get to heaven. His concept really blew my mind. Also it is a movie, so you can read the book and then watch it.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 18, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A novel that is almost an experience.

    The Five People You Meet in Heaven is one of the deepest books I have ever read. It left me with a feeling of importance that a normal book cannot convey. It is easy to say that a speech left you with a desire to help others, or that your mother helped you feel better after someone brought you down, but a book? There are only a few, and this is one of them.
    Mitch Alboom's novel is an inspiring story that talks about what happens to an 83-year-old man after his death. The novel starts with old "Eddie Maintenance", as the children call him, in the last moments of his life. This connection with children and innocence his nickname conveys makes the reader connect with Eddie and enables the chance for him or her to take in the moral of the story through this connection. After the death of Eddie, the book leads the reader through a mixture of the present (heaven) and the Eddie's past. You soon discover that Eddie will meet five people in that stage of heaven, and are instantly hooked by an unknown Blue Man who is Eddie's first guide. The Blue Man teaches Eddie that everyone is connected, for a ball that Eddie dropped as a small boy had lead to the Blue Man's death. At the same time as this is happening, the author gives us flashbacks from Eddie's past that relate to the Blue Man's point of view in the story.
    The book goes on and leads us to four different people, all the time allowing us to connect the pieces of Eddie's life together to make everything about his journey through heaven reasonable. You start noticing how important life on Earth is and how valuable one day, or one person, can become in your life. The story gives every individual a special importance, and that is one of the things that Eddie learns afterwards. Therefore, as a reader who can still make changes in your life, you get to analyze your actions and start to enjoy every minute of it. It makes you want to appreciate everyone in your surroundings, for you might not have another chance, just like Eddie didn't get the opportunity to talk to his father again. There are hidden reasons why people act some ways. Eddie didn't understand his father, but in heaven, he wished he had just given his father a chance to speak, and therefore learns the power of forgiveness. Eddie also learns the importance of sacrifice from a soldier that saves Eddie's life and as a result lost his own.
    One of the most captivating moments of the book was when Eddie saw his wife, who had died many years before him. After spending some time with her, he learned how love doesn't leave; it just takes a different shape. Heaven helps Eddie discover the meaning of his life, though he was simply "Eddie Maintenance" at an amusement park. The story shows us that everyone has a special place in this world, even though you feel you have a minor job and have no family surrounding you. It makes you feel captivated by the lessons and the quotes that can come from the book and inspire you during any moment.
    This is the second book I have read by this author. I had read Tuesdays with Morrie before and after reading this one, I found that both novels left more than another story behind, they almost left an experience. The fact that The Five People You Meet in Heaven was turned into a movie shows how inspiring a tale like this can be. I recommend everyone to read this book, so you can see that in a world so big, everybody makes a difference. Like the book says, "The world is full of stories, but the stories are all o

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2004

    Pretty trite!

    I just finished this book and can't see what all the hoopla is about. It's pretty trite and about as lightweight as 'The Bridges of Madison County'. Definitely not worth the hardcover price.......I'm thinking of taking it back for a refund. If you insist on reading it, borrow a copy, don't waste your money.

    5 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2009

    YOU GOTTA READ THIS THANG!!! WOOOOT WOOOOT

    If i were to die today and go to heave, I would like to have the experienc that Eddie from the Mitch Albom novel, The Five People you Meet in Heaven had. In this fiction novel, Eddie a maintenence worker from a local amusement park Ruby Piers, goes into work as a normal day. Unfortunatley, this normal day for Eddie turned into the last day of his life. After a fwe loose bolts on a ride give way, it leaves a little girl stranded underneath the falling cart, Eddie runs over to the girl and tries to get her out of the way and the next you know it the page turns and we are left with the assumption that Eddie is dead.

    When Eddie arrives in Heaven he becomes the man he was before age and injury kick in. Eddie finds out he can run like he did before he was wounded in war, and that he has the stamina of a young boy. Moreover, after a few moments of examining his surroundings, Eddie is greeted by a blue man who he feels that he has seen before. the blue man tells Eddie that he is in Heaven and that in Heaven you meet five people who can further tell you about your life and how you affected their lives. Throughout the novel, Eddie meets various people that include a past loved one, an old war captain, a complete stranger, a blue man, and finally a young girl. After meeting with these people, Eddie asks the same question, "Did i save that little girl at the Park?" And after each person they say, "I can't tell you."

    The Five People you Meet in Heaven, tells a great story of a man whose life was not complete even after death. Through the human disagreement about if there is a Heaven or not, this gives one example of what afterlife could be like for humans and it makes people wonder. I believe this book was a great read because of the ffect it gives that keeps you guessing and wondering what happens the whole story. As the story grew I never lost interest. By changing the people Eddi talks to it is like a whole new story in itself and if makes the story fun and enjoyable. Eddie creates the theme as said in the book that, " A stranger is just a family member you don't know". And, throughout The Five People you Meet in Heaven you start to become connected with Eddie and start to see things how he saw it. eddie was sent to Heaven to see how he affected the lives of others, and if you want to see how Eddie affected the lives of the people he meets and if he saved that little girl, THEN YOU HAVE TO READ THE BOOK FOR YOURSELF!

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2004

    very dissappointing

    i could not wait to read this book & now i know if i hadn't i would not have missed much.it was depressing & i don't think it filled me in on anything to look forward to in the afterlife. all i got from it was you will be in limbo until you meet up with 5 people that you are meant to tell how they ruined your life.i just think this was a great idea that could have gone in a much happier direction.

    4 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2012

    Irina

    Awesome book

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2005

    BEWARE - graphic descriptions of child abuse

    After all I had read, I was so excited to get this book. It has been a terrible disappointment. It contains graphic stories of horrible child abuse. What's worse, it justifies the abuse with arguments that all parents scar their children and maybe the child is too harsh in judging the parent. This book gave me nightmares.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2005

    What Am I Missing??

    I had the same reaction to this book as to 'The Bridges of Madison County'. Pure dribble. Unimaginative, predictable, shallow. I dubbed it 'One of the Five Books You Will Have to Read in Hell'.

    3 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2004

    For those stuck in the old folks' home

    I'm sorry, folks, but this book reads like a first-grade primer. I wanted to like it but I just couldn't. I kept picking it up and laying it right back down. So sickly sweet it made my stomach turn and poorly researched to boot. Mitch, if you plan on writing about something that actually happened, next time do some research , won't you? Your description of the war in the Pacific was absurd. I guess they'll enjoy it at the old folks' home but I can't imagine how anybody who likes a good story could possibly get immersed in this hopeless mish-mash.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2014

    Highly Recommended- this book is a must read for all ages.

    This book is both inspirational, and we'll written. The five people you meet in heaven will keep you on the edge of your seat. For the religious this book is reinvigorating, and for others it is just a great read none the less. I would say more, but Mitch Albom's work speaks for itself in this amazing novel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2014

    Mitch

    What can I say about this book.? One of the first I readby him and it held my interest from cover to cover and kept me thinking about who would be the five I would meet? What could we say to one another in that first five minutes?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2012

    Very inspirational....

    Mitch did it again....This book is great. From start to finish I connected with each character....While reading I started to wonder the five people who might be waiting on me in heaven. I definitely recommend for anyone who loves Christian fiction.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2009

    not too good, not too bad.

    Have you ever wondered what life after death is really like? In the book The Five People you Meet in Heaven, the author Mitch Albom's idea of life after death is described. This fiction book consists of flashbacks of Eddie's life while he's in heaven. This book is mainly about the opportunity he has to reunite and meet new people that have had an influence on his life.
    Eddie was an old man living the same day over and over again, until suddenly something unexpected happened and Eddie was killed. Once in heaven, Eddie listens to stories told by people of his past, and visits places of his past. This book started out slow in the beginning but it gradually got better. I wouldn't say I loved this book, but I would reccommend it to an older generation. This is because it is a topic that more adults would be interested in, and not to mention my mom liked it more then i did. Ultimatly, i give this book 2.5 stars out of 5.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2004

    A simple tale for simple-minded people

    People who loved Tuesdays with Morrie will also love this book. It's intended for people who have trouble with subtlety. Like Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom whacks the reader over the head with the obvious: Everyone's Life Means Something. This is the kind of book for people who lack any self-awareness whatsoever and who need everything fed to them very carefully with a spoon. You could look at it as a cute little magazine-style story, but the fact that this book is a bestseller frightens me by what that says about the intelligence level of the American public. Quite frankly, anyone who thinks this book is a work of art is someone who probably didn't score very high on his or her SATs. If you need further verification of this, read the above review excerpts more carefully. They're not flattering. Good things I can say about this book are that it's not as sickeningly self-serving as Tuesdays with Morrie, and that it only takes about an hour to read.

    2 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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