Mitch Albom is an award-winning sports writer who authored several inspirational books. His book, “The Five People You Meet In Heaven,” tells the story of living life with peace. Here’s what to know about the book and the lessons that come with it.
The Five People You Meet In Heaven Summary:
The book’s main protagonist is Eddie, an 83-year-old war veteran working as an amusement park ride mechanic. A tragic accident kills him on his birthday as he attempts to save a little girl.
He wakes up in the afterlife soon after. He realizes that heaven is not a destination but a place explained to you by five people. These five people may be people you know or strangers you have met briefly in your lifetime.
Eddie first meets Joseph Corvelzchik, or “The Blue Man.” As a boy, his skin turned blue because of regularly ingesting silver nitrate, a popular medication at the time. Eddie asks why the Blue Man was the first person he meets, and the latter explains that Eddie caused the car accident that killed him when he was younger. Eddie soon learns that there are no random events and all people and experiences are connected.
Eddie meets his former Captain from when he served in the army. He reminds Eddie of their time together as prisoners of war in the Philippines at a labor camp. During their escape, their group burned the camp. Eddie remembers seeing a shadow move in one of the huts. The Captain admits shooting Eddie’s leg to prevent Eddie from chasing the shadow. While the act saved Eddie’s life, it also caused him a lifelong limp. Eddie later learns that the Captain died by stepping on the land mine, which would’ve killed more men had he not set it off.
Eddie then finds himself outside a diner, seeing his father through a window. A woman named Ruby appears and introduces herself. She explains that her husband named the Ruby Pier after her as a tribute to her. Ruby shows Eddie the actual reason behind his father’s death. Ruby tells Eddie that he needs to forgive his father.
Eddie meets his late wife, Marguerite. They reminisce on their wedding, and Marguerite tells Eddie that love never dies in death; it merely moves on and takes a different form or path.
Eddie awakens and sees children playing along a riverbed. A young Filipino girl named Tala comes up to him and explains that she is the little girl in the hut that Eddie set on fire. Distraught, Eddie breaks down, asking God, “Why?” Tala hands him a stone, asking him to wash her like the other children.
Puzzled at first, Eddie relents and dips the stone in the water, then scrape the girl’s injuries away. Tala’s wounds start to heal. Eddie asks if she knows he saved the little girl in the amusement park before his death. Tala informs him that he did manage to push her out of the way. In a way, Eddie managed to atone every day for Tala’s death.
Ultimately, we find that Eddie’s heaven is the Stardust Band Shell, where he meets his wife, Marguerite.
The Five People You Meet In Heaven Lessons:
Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” talks about the human nature of looking back on our lives as we grow older.
While Eddie has lived a long life, he has also lived through countless regrets due to his choices and circumstances beyond his control. Nevertheless, Eddie sacrificed himself before his death to save the little girl, showcasing his kind and courageous character.
As he wakes up, he meets five different people he has met. While some are familiar, others are not, but each provided some inspiring lessons that Eddie and ourselves can reflect on. Here are key lessons from the book:
1. We are all connected.
Human beings are special and unique because of the bonds they create. Despite how seemingly random our actions may be, one small act can impact another, whether the person knows it or not. This instance can be positive and negative, so we must be aware of how impactful our words and actions are.
2. There is value to sacrifice.
Eddie’s former army captain made the ultimate sacrifice when he sacrificed his life for others. After stepping on a landmine to set it off, he could prevent the weapon’s damage on a broader scale, which could result in many more deaths.
Sacrifice is always difficult. As much as we would like to have it all and live comfortably, it’s unrealistic. Learning to make sacrifices is selfless, especially when you know it can benefit others aside from yourself.
3. There is power in forgiveness.
It’s easy to say you must forgive but challenging to follow through. As we live through life, we’ll experience plenty of heartbreaking moments from many people, including our loved ones. When there’s pain and hurt, staying angry and never forgiving the other person for hurting you can be tempting. However, this anger can be destructive because it can affect how you relate to others or approach certain people.
Forgiving others is not always to the benefit of the one at fault. More often, forgiveness keeps you from holding grudges and allowing you to move on peacefully.
4. There is no love wasted.
Eddie’s wife, Marguerite, passed away before he did. As they reminisce on their lives, Marguerite teaches Eddie a crucial lesson: Love never dies, not even in death. Love, however, takes other forms that spread all around us.
Losing a loved one is incredibly heartbreaking, and it’s easy to see why grief is difficult to get over. However, there’s comfort in knowing that the person’s memory lives within you, so their love is never really wasted in the first place.
5. Our life’s purpose doesn’t have to be spectacular.
Everyone has a dream in life, whether it’s achieving success or experiencing certain things that no one else has. However, life isn’t a competition. You can always change your life; if you feel that the rat race is not for you, you must find your happiness and personal fulfillment. As long as you’re still living, it’s never too late.
The Bottom Line:
Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” is a timeless classic that anyone can read regardless of age and gender. Mitch Albom is a master writer who can inspire and touch a broader audience by showcasing human nature in a relatable and sensible manner. He also emphasizes how the simple things are the things that matter the most in the grand scheme of things.