This short book packs a punch, I don’t think I’ve cried so much reading a book for quite a while. I think my husband Ben was sure something was wrong with me as I finished it up and had to keep running to the bathroom for a tissue!
Eddie is an elderly maintenance worker at a beachside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident happens at the park and Eddie dies trying to save a child. Did he save her? Eddie questions everyone he sees in heaven to determine the child’s fate and he also meets five people who had a hand in his earthly path and explain his existence.
As Eddie talks to each of the people, he learns more about his life and about how it was tied together with so many other people’s stories. He gets closure on what happened to him during World War II and about his difficult relationship with his father. It also explores the great love he had for his late wife, Marguerite.
This book reminded me so much of one of my all-time favorite movies – It’s a Wonderful Life. Eddie feels like he is a failure, but he learns when he enters heaven that his life has impacted more than he ever realized. I really liked the overall message as it’s something I’ve always thought – even what you consider a small action could be a large action to someone else!
This book was the May selection for the Flicks Book and Movie Club, aka Rogue. Although it deals with the afterlife, it strangely doesn’t really talk much about Christianity. We had some interesting discussion on the book, but sadly half hadn’t read it yet so the discussion was curtailed.
“This is the story about a man named Eddie and it begins at the end, with Eddie dying it 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.”
“No story sits by itself.”
“Young men go to war. Sometimes because they have to, sometimes because they want to. Always, they feel they are supposed to. This comes from the sad, layered stories of life, which over the centuries have seen courage confused with picking up arms, and cowardice confused with laying them down.”
“Things that happen before you are born still affect you.”
“And in that line now was a whiskered old man, with a linen cap and a crooked nose, who waited in a place called the Stardust Band Shell to share his part of the secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.”
Overall, The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a good book that makes you think about your own life and how you have impacted people. Eddie didn’t have the perfect life, but his life was important and tied into so many other lives.
Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library