Thursday, April 14, 2005

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!


At 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

balaji sir,
"Gulaam Kaadharukkum Gokulaashtami-kum enna sammandham" ("Azhagan").

CMukhi, MExpress and Sachin release aagara Thamizh Puthaandu adhuvuma edhukku indha peter matter ellaam??!!

At 3:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you are joking ram! The world does not revolve around tamil movies. Although they do play an integral part of entertainment for many NRIs, there are many wonderful books to be read, and experiences to be had. That said, I wish everyone a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.

At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

aj, chill, yaar...
you sound like my Mum!

At 4:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

balaji i liked his tuesdays with morrie better:)thats a must-read!

At 5:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops sorry,prev post was yrs truly!dont know why this came as anon,

At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read this book and loved it....when you kinda thing about it you realize how this world is all give and take....every time u win someone else thought it was a sweet, touching book that gives u a good feeling......nehow it's been made into a movie if neone's interested

At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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