When I was a teenager, I read a book by Mitch Albom called One More Day. I honestly can’t remember much about it, but I remember liking it. So, when I found The Five People You Meet in Heaven at a thrift store, I decided to pick it up. I’m so glad I did.
The premise of the book is that once you die, there are five people with whom you meet - people whose life either was irreversibly affected by you or vice versa. In the book, we follow the life and death of Eddie, a maintenance man who worked at a carnival on a pier. His life wasn’t what he’d dreamed, and not everything he knew about it was true.
The story cuts between Eddie’s memories of his life, the stories told by his five “people”, and the world that Eddie left behind with his death. They don’t all seem to make a cohesive story until you reach the end, and Eddie finally finds peace.
Often we think of people doing mundane jobs living mundane lives, but how can that be true? This book celebrates the fact that no person is as uninteresting as that. Eddie learns that his impact was both good and bad, and he learns to accept his demons and move forward. I don’t often understand the adjective “beautiful” used in relation to books and other non-visual things, but it makes sense in this case. The simple, everyday manner of storytelling often conflicts with the raw emotions being unearthed for the character.
The Five People You Meet in Heaven is probably best for adults, but a mature teenager might appreciate it. It is inspiring. It made me think about my own choices and what kind of seen and unseen consequences they bear. It also made me supremely grateful for my own life.