The powerful and thought-provoking book entitled The Five People You Meet In Heaven. It is a novel by Mitch Albom and was first published in 2003. This book is almost 20 years old already but it is still worth reading. It is also good when you want to get back into reading again after a book slump.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven is still a must-read
The book was about Eddie, an 83-year-old war veteran, who died on his very own birthday. He goes through his journey in the afterlife meeting five people. These people may have been loved ones or strangers but surely have changed Eddie’s life when he was alive.
From those people, he learned the value of his life, how they changed his life, and how important they were in his 80 years of living. Each character left lessons and reminders that everyone should remember and take from this novel.
MY PERSONAL TAKE ON THIS BOOK
Technicality-wise, the style of writing was unconventional and might be difficult to understand for some readers, especially young ones. The constant flashbacks might also annoy some readers. However, I think those flashbacks are important to the continuity of the story.
Albom used a unique style of writing, as the story started with the main character dying. The title chapter is entitled The End piqued my interest and curiosity about how this story would go.
Story-wise, the book might be heavy-handed for some. From my personal perspective, I found the story thought-provoking, heartfelt, and somehow comforting. It provided a chance for you to think about people you encounter in your life— from your family and friends to the people you came across with.
There were also other lessons that may get in the story. With the five people Eddie met, the story highlighted topics and lessons about sacrifices, acceptance, love, and trauma.
These quotations really got me hooked on this book, and although some of them were arguable and subjective, I would say that they were still relatable and inspirational for most of us.
A quote about sacrifice mentioned by one of the five people was,
“Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.”
This quote would really make you think about your sacrifices in life—from those big, life-changing sacrifices to even the smallest sacrifices that would make you realize that they were not small as you might think.
“People say they ‘find’ love, as if it were an object hidden by a rock. But love takes many forms, and it is never the same for any man and woman. What people find then is a certain love. And found a certain love with, a grateful love, a deep but quiet love, one that he knew, above all else, was irreplaceable.”
Love is a common word yet so complicated. We may agree that ‘love’ is different for everyone.
It also talked about the relationship between parents and children, and how parents damage their children.
One quote about parents from the book said that “All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”
Parents are the first people we encounter in life, thus they might also be the first persons that brought traumas, heartbreaks, pains, and hardships to us.
The Concept of Heaven
Meanwhile, the concept of heaven in this story was not the typical concept of heaven we knew. In this story, heaven was not a lush ‘Garden of Eden’ but a place where your life is explained to you by five people who were in it.
This new concept of heaven was not a problem for me. However, some, particularly those readers who have a firm religious belief, might raise their eyebrows. The concept of heaven in the story might clash with their personal idea of how heaven should be.
Although understanding the flow of the story might be difficult for young readers. Overall, the story was well-written and well-established with great intention to inspire and provide lessons about life.
It might also be better to re-read this novel every year or a couple of years later. This is to see how those lessons would relate to one’s more developed and current perspectives and personal experiences. This novel also has a sequel entitled ‘The Next Person You Meet In Heaven’ published in 2018.
Rosella also called as Sella by her friends, is a proud "iskolar ng bayan," studying Journalism at Polytechnic University of the Philippines. She loves to read and express herself through writing. She believes that mind and words are powerful, so she aspires to be someone who uses them to amplify the voice of others.