The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom
Genres: Literature, Contemporary
“All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.”
This was a book I had to read for class. I’ve enjoyed assigned books in the past, but to be honest, I didn’t expect to eat through this book so quickly. It’s tiny – not even 200 pages – but it wasn’t so much the length as my inability to put it down.
I am an atheist. I have little to no knowledge about many religions, particularly orthodox ones. I have tried multiple times to stretch my beliefs a little, to believe in a deity, but I can’t. It’s not how I think. Despite this, if there is a heaven, I would want it to be exactly like it is depicted in this book. Many if not all individuals worry about living a pointless life, of not affecting anything, and wondering why they’re even alive, and The Five People You Meet in Heaven is based around the idea that when you die, you meet five different people – some you know, some you might not – that drastically changed your life, and explain to you the significance of their encounters and what they mean. It’s a way of understanding how you mattered during the time you were alive, something we all crave to know.
It’s very easy to see how, from our perspective, we would feel worthless, whereas from an outsider’s point of view, we understand how important we are. Eddie believes he was very insignificant, that due to the war and his leg injury he didn’t live as fulfilled a life as he’d dreamed – but when he glances through it with his five people, he comes to understand that he did in fact serve his purpose, that his life wasn’t as gray as it appeared.
This is such an emotionally-packed book. Many of the lessons that Eddie learns are things that we’ve all heard before, but the way they are woven through adds a deeper sentimentality. There are quotes in here that are worthy of being put in pretty fonts on rainy backgrounds and pasted all over Tumblr.
“Strangers,” the Blue Man said, “are just family you have yet to come to know.”
This is a book that is easy to fly through, that is over and done with in a matter of hours, but might stay with you forever, just because of how deep it is. It’s a tiny reminder that no matter how we perceive ourselves, we are not as transparent as we seem.