10/05/2005

The Five People you Meet in Heaven

I'm not usually interested in books that become cult favourites. I read various reviews of this one on both Ciao and Dooyoo, and while some of them piqued my interest I decided I probably wouldn't bother with this one by Mitch Albom - someone I had never even heard of.

Then I saw it for a few pence at a jumble sale and decided to get it. I started it yesterday afternoon, and enjoyed it so much that I finished it this morning. Admittedly it's not very long, only a little over 200 pages, but I could barely put it down.

The story is an intriguing one. Eddie, a park maintenance man in his 80s, dies while attemtping to rescue a small girl from a nasty fairground accident. The book opens by mentioning that he's about to die, then gives a countdown of his last hour. So it's no shock when it happens. The focus of the book is what happens after he dies - where, as the title explains, he meets five specific people. These aren't necessarily five people he would have expected to meet, indeed he barely knows one of them and had never met another. However each of them had some involvement in his life, and is there to teach him something he needs to learn before he can have a peaceful eternity.

It might sound trite, but I didn't find it that way at all. It could have been confusing - the book is a complex tapestry with snapshots of Eddie's life interspersed with his heavenly meetings. But it's very cleverly written, building up a vivid picture of this thoroughly likeable old man.

All in all, a highly recommended 'different' type of book.

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