Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Book Review Contest: Five People You Meet in Heaven (reviewed by Karen Wong)

This is a heart-warming story effortlessly written by Mitch Albom. It is a story about the life and death of an old man who works in a local amusement park called Ruby Pier. It really struck a chord when I was reading his story in this book. Everyone can relate to his worries and thoughts. It will leave you in awe definitely and make you wonder about life. It will also give you a whole new perspective about one’s afterlife in heaven. It is truly an original and refreshing story that has captured my heart.

The story mainly revolves around the theme of one’s life and how it is connected with other people’s lives. Eddie who is the main character of the story is a maintenance worker at Ruby Pier. Ironically, the story starts with the Eddie’s death. This is one of the points that Mitch Albom is trying to present, implicating that for every beginning there is an end and for every end there is a beginning too. Eddie dies trying to save a little girl from a falling cart on his 83rd birthday. With his final breath, he feels two small hands in his and then nothing. His soul goes to heaven where he learns the most important lessons in life. He then realises heaven is not a lush Garden of Eden, but a place where your earthly life is explained to you by five people who were in it.

This is how the book gets its title. The first person Eddie meets in heaven is ‘The Blue Man’ named Joseph who is a member of a carnival show at Ruby Pier. This part of the story mostly portrays Eddie’s childhood. When he was young, he caused Joseph’s death indirectly. And the heaven they are actually in is Joseph’s one which is at Ruby Pier where Joseph can be himself. Joseph gives Eddie his first lesson that all are connected. Everything one does may affect others. The second person Eddie would meet is his captain. When Eddie was a teenager, he served as an army. His troop had a difficult time during the war. His leg was severely damaged and was the blame he put on later in life when he cannot advance further than a ride maintenance man. The captain sacrificed his life to save his troop. Also, the captain reveals that he was the one that injured Eddie’s leg to prevent him from entering a burning house to save a child. This sudden revelation leaves Eddie fuming and wonder how many possibilities are out there for him has he not injured his leg in the first place. Undeniably, the lesson here is sacrifice. The third person is Ruby which the pier is built for her by her husband. Here, she related her wish that the pier was never built because of all the sufferings there. She also tells Eddie how his father dies when she was tending to her ill husband who shares the room with him. Eddie had a troubled relationship with his father. After hearing Ruby’s account of his death, Eddie realises that his father is just like any other ordinary person who loves his family very much even though he did not show any affections. The idea reflected here is events before we are born still affect our lives as do the people before us. Eddie’s wife, Marguerite who died young is the fourth person he meets in heaven. Her heaven is a place full of wedding receptions. This is because the happiest moment in her life is her wedding reception with Eddie in a Chinese restaurant. Although it is not lavish, she still enjoys every moment of it. Eddie and Marguerite love each other dearly. So when Marguerite died too soon, Eddie was angry that their love had been broken into thousand pieces. However, she explains that their love is never lost, it just takes another form which is eternal: memory. In his last stage of heaven, Eddie meets the girl that he was trying to save in the burning house. He was responsible for her death. Tala shares the final lesson with him when he feels that he has no purpose on earth. But Tala explains that he is the one who protects children by maintaining park rides at the pier. She also says that he managed to save the girl from the falling cart and the hands he feels are hers who is pulling him to heaven, keeping him safe. At last, he goes back to the pier where he sees all the people that he has saved by maintaining the park rides. By his side is his young and beautiful wife. When he looks at the clouds, the word ‘HOME’ is formed. Many years later, Eddie will be waiting for the little girl he saved and tells his part of the secret of heaven. One affects other and next, and this world is full of stories but the stories are all one.

There are many inspirational quotes from this novel. The most notable one has to be “The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.” Others include “Strangers are just family you have yet to come to know.” and “Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.”

This is an absorbing story as everyone in this world now is finding our own identities. We struggle to find our places in the universe while actually we are already in those places. We just do not realise it. This book teaches me to sacrifice, to love, to grief and most of all to let go our grudges and just savour our lives. This novel is beyond describable. You have to experience it yourself personally. Who knows? You might just be like me who could not put down the book until the end.

1 comment:

Selina said...

It is great story that I read! It will teach you about how you live in your live as your 'time'! You should spend time with your family and friends to experience your love! ^^