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152 of 162 people found the following review helpful
This was such a lovely, hopeful and thought provoking work of fiction. But here's the thing - a bit of me believes/hopes that it's bordering on fact.

Mitch Albom's 'The Five People You Meet In Heaven' tells the tale of Eddie, the fairground maintainance man and his story begins on his 83rd birthday.......his last day on earth.

To help him put his lifetime into perspective he is met in heaven by 5 people from his past, some he knows - some he doesn't, but they all hold information that will help Eddie make sense of his life and understand what led him to arrive in heaven on the day he did.

The message seems to be that whether we are aware of it or not, everything happens for a reason but more importantly, even trivial things can shape a person and that every encounter, occurance or event is tightly woven into the fabric of our lives.

It is a very quick read, at just over 100 pages, but Mr Albom's writing style seems to pack a lot into those 100 pages. It's not 'gripping' or 'fast paced' but it is a page turner. I read it in one sitting as I couldn't wait to find out who Eddie's 5 people were and what his personal heaven would be.

I don't think I've ever sobbed as much over a book as I did at the bittersweet ending of this one. I didn't see the 5th person coming and was literally moved to tears at their fragment of Eddie's life.

It gets 5 out of 5 from me and I'm so glad I've read it.
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107 of 118 people found the following review helpful
In many ways, The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a simple little book; as is so often the case, the most profound of answers are revealed most clearly in the simplest of explanations. This is not a book about heaven in a religious sense; the truths it establishes are to be found right here in our own lives: every life has a purpose, every person and every action is related, and while you may not be able to discern it now, it all makes sense in the end.
Eddie represents all of us to some degree. Looking back on his life with regret over all the things he should have done or not done, he is almost a ghost of himself. Since the death of his wife, he has basically gone through the motions, working at the same job his father worked before him, dealing with the bad dreams brought on by his wartime experience, watching his body deteriorate to the point that he can barely get around, waiting for nothing, feeling nothing but regret. He always wanted to get away from his father and live an entirely different sort of life, yet he wound up taking over his father's job, living in the same building, failing to achieve any of the hopes and dreams he embraced so tightly as a young man. His wife was his only anchor, and she has been dead a long time now.
When we first meet Eddie, he is about to die. The end is just another beginning, however, and we learn the story of Eddie's life as the novel progresses. Heaven is not what he expected; he finds no peace here at all. Happiness cannot come without understanding, however, and five people are waiting to explain Eddie's life to him. They include people he barely knew or did not know at all, yet he soon learns what a huge influence he had in their earthly lives. Each one imparts to Eddie a lesson he must learn in order to find peace. I won't describe who the five people are or what they tell him; but I will say that the overall message is a really touching and significant one. Understanding is not a pain-free process, but it leads to the complete unburdening of Eddie's soul. The ending was nothing short of beautiful. It would have been easy to sit back and let an overly sappy conclusion ruin the whole story, but Albom does not let that happen.
While this is a great and rewarding read, some readers will never give themselves fully to the story and will thus wonder what the big deal about this book is. For many, though, The Five People You Meet in Heaven will provide an important level of comfort and inspiration for those who see only a past of regrets and no future. We all sometimes wonder why we are here and whether it's even worth going on day after meaningless, monotonous day. This book does not provide the definitive answer to such profound questions, but it does provide an answer - and it is a comforting one.
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2011
This is a self development book that makes you think about the effect you have - unknowingly - on other people's lives. `The Five People You Meet In Heaven' was written by Mitch Albom, author of the international bestseller `Tuesdays With Morrie'. Whether you believe in heaven or not, it is interesting to read how the author portrays what happens after death and what his take is on the meaning of life.

On the Surface

Eddie is a `maintenance man' at an amusement park. The book starts with a count-down to Eddie's death, over the course of an hour, and what he did in that time as he went about his job in that park not realising that it would be for the last time.

On dying in an accident at that amusement park, Eddie goes on a journey of self discovery, meeting five important people in heaven. Each of them was in his life for a specific reason - some only momentarily. And every one of the five was affected by Eddie's life in a profound way. Eddie sees them once more in heaven as they each have something to teach him.

In between each chapter or so is a page or two recounting important periods in Eddie's past, e.g., specific birthdays from his childhood to adulthood. From the point of view of this self development book review, it is interesting how the two stories work in conjunction with each other.

The Underlying Message

Many people believe that during the course of their life several people come into it and make a difference to them. This book makes you look at life the other way round. Who are the people that YOU touch without you actually realising? What is the impact that YOU make on others without your knowledge?

Sometimes the effect is instantaneous, dramatic and you know about it straight away. At other times it is so subtle that you may not realise how you changed that person's life till many years later, if at all!

Eddie had always thought that his mundane life and job were not of any use to others. By the time he meets the `fifth person in heaven' he fully realises just how many lives he had touched and helped.

Also, he learns that each person had played a significant role in helping him to live to the exact point that he did. In other words, each person had prevented him from dying at earlier points in his life.

There are phrases and sentences throughout that make you think twice, such as:

* "Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else."
* "But the running boy is inside every man, no matter how old he gets."
* "Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers."

The Questions it makes you consider

The book also addresses a question that most people ask at some point: "What happens after death?" The author suggests one answer, which initially comes across as quite light hearted but does make you think more deeply about it all.

When the author talks about death he does it in the way a child would bring it up, i.e., it is just one of those things that happen. And the way the story unfolds, you get an insight into his way of covering the answers to Man's longstanding curiosity about the afterlife, reincarnation, etc.

The story also makes you consider other interesting issues such as:

* Will the very next person you come in contact with change the course of your life forever?
* Have you (unknowingly) totally changed the course of someone's life?

In Summary

As you read this self development book you do feel somewhat in the grip of the story, not wanting to put it down until you figure out who `The Five People You Meet In Heaven' are, and why. Overall, the story gives an interesting slant on the meaning of life and what happens after death. It is worth a read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The title and book concept have intrigued me since I first heard about the book. I don't know any religions that describe the experience in Heaven as beginning by meeting five people from your past life, so I took the book to be a parable rather than a literal attempt to describe Heavenly life. I was quite pleased (for the most part) with what I found. I recommend this book to anyone who will not feel like their religion is being cast in doubt by the book's premise.
Many self-help gurus encourage us to imagine our funeral service and what would be said about us. I think there's a lot of merit to that concept. Mr. Albom has added another important element to that concept: What were the unintended effects that others had on our lives and we on theirs? Cast in that light, even the most mundane life is suddenly filled with drama and greater significance. I hope Mr. Albom will consider writing a self-help book that allows us to think through the lessons of this book for our own lives.
To describe what happens in Heaven in the book would be to spoil the book for you . . . so I won't. I found the book constantly surprising and interesting, and a quick read. One of the underlying themes of the book is the need to be more accepting of one another . . . and the consequences of our actions. In that regard, I thought the story was weak only in developing the resolution of his relationship with one of his parents. Other than that flaw, I would have enthusiastically graded the book at five stars.
Let me quote the book's intriguing opening paragraph to give you a flavor of why you may want to read this book:
"This is a story about a man named Eddie and it begins at the end, with Eddie dying in the sun. It might seem strange to start a story with an ending. But all endings are also beginnings. We just don't know it at the time."
I think that's the best opening for a book that I have read in many years. Much of the rest of the writing is just as good.
As I finished the book, I began to think about how my "failures" may have actually helped others to "successes." That was a new thought for me, and one that will make me act quite differently in the future. That was a great gift to receive from reading a single story.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The title and book concept have intrigued me since I first heard about the book. I don't know any religions that describe the experience in Heaven as beginning by meeting five people from your past life, so I took the book to be a parable rather than a literal attempt to describe Heavenly life. I was quite pleased (for the most part) with what I found. I recommend this book to anyone who will not feel like their religion is being cast in doubt by the book's premise.
Many self-help gurus encourage us to imagine our funeral service and what would be said about us. I think there's a lot of merit to that concept. Mr. Albom has added another important element to that concept: What were the unintended effects that others had on our lives and we on theirs? Cast in that light, even the most mundane life is suddenly filled with drama and greater significance. I hope Mr. Albom will consider writing a self-help book that allows us to think through the lessons of this book for our own lives.
To describe what happens in Heaven in the book would be to spoil the book for you . . . so I won't. I found the book constantly surprising and interesting, and a quick read. One of the underlying themes of the book is the need to be more accepting of one another . . . and the consequences of our actions. In that regard, I thought the story was weak only in developing the resolution of his relationship with one of his parents. Other than that flaw, I would have enthusiastically graded the book at five stars.
Let me quote the book's intriguing opening paragraph to give you a flavor of why you may want to read this book:
"This is a story about a man named Eddie and it begins at the end, with Eddie dying in the sun. It might seem strange to start a story with an ending. But all endings are also beginnings. We just don't know it at the time."
I think that's the best opening for a book that I have read in many years. Much of the rest of the writing is just as good.
As I finished the book, I began to think about how my "failures" may have actually helped others to "successes." That was a new thought for me, and one that will make me act quite differently in the future. That was a great gift to receive from reading a single story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2011
I got this book out of the library just beacuse it looked interesting. After I read it (in just a few hours) I bought my own copy and I've read it many times since. I simply can't put into words how wonderful this book is. Its so quick and easy to read but leaves you thinking about it for weeks afterwards. I love books about the afterlife, I find it fascinating reading different peoples interpretations about what heaven really is, or what they hope it could be and Mitch Alboms idea is really unique. We are all affected by the people we meet in life and they are in turn affected by us. I really felt for Eddie, the disappointments he'd faced in life, the awful things that had happened to him and it was wonderful that in the end he found some peace in knowing his existence hadn't been pointless. The last person that Eddie meets was a real surprise for me, I didn't see it coming at all and it was both heartbreaking and breathtaking all at once. I think everyone should read this book, and if you enjoyed this perhaps try "If I Stay" by Gayle Foreman or " For One More Day" also by Mitch Albom.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2014
Great concept that could do with a rewrite! Personally I found it poorly written as the plot and key statements did not hold together. There were 3-4 phases of momentum that drew you in and gave some hope that the book would turn a positive corner. The dated assumptions and statements about all men, etc were annoying and flippant. The 'Meaning of Life statements' were both shallow and lost opportunities for something great.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book couldn't have been set in England - we're too uptight! Like another bestseller 'The bridges of Madison County', it needs its good dose of schmaltz, and that schmaltz helps to make it the powerful little story it is.
The story of Eddie who dies on his 83rd birthday; he saves a little girl from being killed on a fairground ride but perishes himself. Eddie arrives in heaven to find out he will meet five people who were involved with him, who will in turn help him come to terms with his life.
A fascinating concept, particularly because, bar his wife and father, Eddie couldn't have predicted the other people who help him to work out his life once he died, yet were essential to understanding it.
A lovely, life-affirming read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2009
This was a wonderful tale from beginning to end. It was the life story of Eddie a funfair worker, who is killed. The story starts at the very end of his life and throughout the book you are given details of his simple life. This book is beautifully written in that throughout the book we meet five people who had been involved in Eddie's life in some shape or form. Of these five people, Eddie knew some of them, and others were strangers, but in some way they had played a part in Eddie's life or he had played a part in theirs. They each tell Eddie a story, and it helps Eddie to achieve peace and learn lessons about his time on earth. This book is so captivating and a beautiful read that you could easily finish in one sitting.
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43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2003
This is the most magical and thought-provoking book I have read in a long time. Eddie dies in a fairground accident, and on arrival in heaven, meets five unexpected people he has known on earth, who were all destined to meet up with him to help him learn life's lessons. These people are all in their personal heavens, which made me think about what my idea of heaven would be. The story is interspersed with flashbacks of Eddie's life, a very mixed life just like we are all experiencing on earth, and the book has me wondering who the five people are that I shall meet in heaven, and if I've met them all on earth yet!
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