The Five People You Meet In Heaven
While not path-breaking or life-changing as the reviews proclaim, Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet In Heaven is definitely a feel-good read. It is frequently touching and occasionally surprising and derives its feel-good part from its core philosophy that every man, however insignificant he may think he is, has a part to play in the world.
The book is about Eddie, a maintenance man who has spent his entire life working at Ruby Pier, a seaside amusement park. The book opens surprisingly following Eddie around as he goes about his daily duties, unaware that he is living his last minutes on earth. He dies while performing a selfless act and once in heaven, meets five people who in one way or the other, have a link to him.
The five people for Eddie have been chosen well. It is never easy to guess who the next one is going to be and what the lesson that they have in store for Eddie is. The episodes with the first, second and last persons are the most interesting and educational while the remaining two help more in understanding Eddie's past. The book ends wonderfully and the scene where Eddie finally understands his purpose in life is truly exhilarating.
Mitch Albom has a simple style of writing, avoiding longwinded sentences and flowery prose. But the style serves the story well here. It is an emotional story designed to tug at our heartstrings and Albom's style makes the story seem intimate and personal. At the same time, the author keeps our interest in the story by avoiding a straightforward storytelling approach. From the main thread where Eddie meets the five people, there are frequent flashbacks to his past years. Apart from this, a third thread describes his birthdays as he moved on in years. The flashbacks serve as snapshots of his life at different points, helping us understand how his life has changed. The technique also helps avoid the feeling of lack of continuity as we jump to different points in Eddie's life.
With books by my favorite authors coming out in the next few months, my summer reads are going to be filled with serial killers, thrills and twists. But Five People was a nice change of pace and brought a smile to my face at the end. Can't ask for much more from a book!