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Have you ever thought about what your destination to heaven would be like or who you would meet there? Well, the book The Five People You Meet in Heaven, by Mitch Albom constructs an image of how the afterlife would exist after an individual has passed away. In addition, the author presents its readers with five significant themes: every action made affects others, lives are sacrificed to save others, forgive others and let go of your anger, love is very powerful, and that there is a purpose for everything; which will all be further discussed.
My brief summary of the book basically regards the main character Eddie, an 83 year old man who works at Ruby Pier (an amusement park) as a maintenance man. Eddie dies and goes to heaven to meet five important people named: Joseph Corvelzchik (known as the Blue Man), his commanding officer (known as his Captain when he was in the war), Ruby (the wife of the original owner of the amusement park and the reason why it was made), Marguerite (his wife), and Tala (a young child who he unintentionally killed in the war).
Each and every one of these people help guide him, mentor him, and teach him a valuable lesson to help him understand his life on earth better, and how he lived it as oppose to how he really should have lived out his life on earth. Via each valuable lesson these characters give stems five different topics that are addressed through these characters.
For instance, the first person he meets in heaven was Joseph Corvelzachik. Joseph brought it to Eddie’s attention that on earth every person is connected in some way through their actions and how that action may have an effect on another person.
A prime example Joseph gives is how his tragic death occur which was because of Eddie; even though, Eddie had no clue that he played a major part in his death. When Eddie was a little boy he went out in the street chasing after his baseball, and Joseph who was driving at the moment try to avoid hitting him by swerving in which he swerved into another car, had a heart attack, and then died. Thus, here we can really see how the topic about our actions on earth can connect us with others and how we could forever alter another person’s life for either the good or the bad just from our actions alone.
The second person he meets in heaven is his commanding officer. During Eddie’s younger years he spent some time fighting in the war, and after surviving the war, he came out with a limp leg. Consequently, Eddie’s commanding officer brings forth the crucial topic of sacrifice. He jogs his memory of the war and tells him how his death occurred; since at the time Eddie was unconscious. All he knew that his Captain had later died, but not how he had died. Though the Captain’s death was unfortunate, the way he died in which he died saving the rest of his soldiers’ lives was however inspiring.
The Captain and his soldiers had just survived being capture by their enemies for an unspecified amount of days. After surviving successfully they decided to blow up the place before leaving, but as they were leaving, Eddie decide to go back inside the burning building because he thinks he sees a shadow of a child figure crawling into the building. This makes him think of his little cousins at home, and as result, he decides to go back inside to try to find and save the child. But, a fellow soldier tries to stop him and when that fails, the Captain shoots Eddie in the leg being that his principle for war was “no one gets left behind!
After this Eddie is unconscious and as their on their way out the Captain decides to be the first to make sure that everything is safe and clear at the gate before everyone else goes through. When he does this, he gets blown up into pieces because he was on the spot of a landmine. Had the Captain not went by himself to make sure everything was safe, the whole crew would of died instead of just one person. Thus, he sacrificed his life so that the others could live and go back home to their families. In telling his story of how he died, the Captain tries to get Eddie to see that he should not be angry about his leg situation.
He mentions that life is all about sacrifices and not something to regret but aspire (Albom 163). Eddie comes to realize that his Captain is right and forgives him for shooting him in the leg. Ruby is the third person Eddie meets in heaven. It is through her character that the topic of forgiveness and letting go of anger comes up. For the most part of his life Eddie was angry and the root of his anger came from the feeling of neglect and abuse from his father. Eddie’s father when he was a child would beat him and his brother when he was drunk and lost in playing card games. He never really showed his son much attention or love.
Even when Eddie’s father died he was still angry because now he felt stuck working in his place as a maintenance man at Ruby Pier. According to the book, “all parents damage their children. It cannot be helped (Albom 104). ” Ruby was there to tell him that holding on to his anger was only poisoning him and thus tearing him apart. She explains that anger/ hatred is only harmful to nobody but our own selves (Albom 142). Thus, he should let go of the anger he has for his father and forgive him so that he can be at peace. The fourth person Eddie meets in heaven is his wife Marguerite.
Marguerite discusses the topic of love and its power. After Eddie lost his wife he really felt empty and alone. In fact, he was even a little angry that his wife had died and left him. Hence, Marguerite was there to tell him that “lost love is still love…It takes a different form … ” Basically saying you may not get to touch or hold the person you love physically but as she said it best “…when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it (Albom 173). ” Overall, Marguerite’s lesson to her husband Eddie was to get him to see that although life ends, love still endures.
Tala is the last person Eddie meets in heaven. She is the child Eddie seen in the burning building that night when he was in war. Tala addresses the topic of people purposes and reasoning in life. For years, Eddie felt as though he did nothing with his life and accomplished nothing by working at Ruby Pier. But, Tala tells him that he was supposed to be there because he kept the children safe. “…they were there… because of the simple, mundane things Eddie had done in his life, the accidents he had prevented, the rides he had kept safe, the unnoticed turns he had affected every day (Albom193). If it wasn’t for him doing the duties as vigilantly and carefully as he did, a lot of kids would have died at the Ruby Pier amusement park. Hence, he was there for a reason despite of the fact that he felt like a failure because he was replacing his father duties instead of pursuing his dream to become an engineer. After reading this book I came to the conclusion that the whole purpose of this book was to help assist somebody on how to deal with real life problems; whether it be death, learning to forgive others, or letting go of anger.
It’s just the simple life lessons I feel the author is trying to help readers get through and withstand in one’s own life. In attempting to fathom the author’s purpose, I learned that we touch other people’s lives in ways that sometimes go unnoticed. For instance, it could be the slightest actions that we make and we don’t even realize how that smallest action may have affected another person. I also learned that just because your life or maybe even someone else’s life like a loved one ends doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world but also another beginning.
Thus, if you or someone you know is approaching death, I feel that the author wants you to try and think of it as if you or that person is merely starting a new beginning in heaven; ready to learn the unknown questions that you may have about your life as well as to better understand it. Lastly, I learned that no matter what kind of sacrifices we make in life, we should appreciate them because what use is there of making them if were being selfish or in other words feeling upset about it after we made the sacrifice.
Eddie sacrifice his life by going back into the building because of what he thought he saw, but after making the sacrifice he seemed, in my opinion, a little selfish because he felt ashamed of his leg situation even though he went back in the building with good intentions. I feel as though he should of boast about his leg injury; giving credit to his self of his bravery and good intentions of saving a child he thought he saw in a burning building. Hence, Alboms book taught me that in life when we make sacrifices whether it’s for better or worse, we should feel good or aspired about our sacrifices we made.
As a result of all of this, I feel that the attended audience Albom is trying to convey and reach his message to is for anyone because he’s not just talking about losses or death. As said previously, he discusses real life problems that everyone can relate to in some way or another. It is for this reason that I would recommend this book to a friend, family member, colleague and/ or a future client because it does not pertain to a specific individual going through a particular issue.
I would also recommend this book to any age group from a child to a teenager and even to an adult because it’s a simple, easy, and a short book for anyone to understand and read. With that being said, this book in my perspective has no limits in regards to whom to and whom not to recommend it to. More importantly, I would specifically recommend this book to my neighbor/ childhood friend. In less than a year, he lost both of his grandparents who had raised him since he was a toddler.
I feel that Marguerite’s message about the power of love and memory could really help him deal with his loss of both his grandparents because then he can know that although their not here with him today, he can always fall back on the good and special memories he shared with them when they were alive, for no one can take that away from him. The biography of Mitch Albom speaks a lot about why he chooses the topics he writes about. According to the Mitch Albom bio website, Mitch Albom is prominent for being best-selling author, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, radio and television broadcaster, and musician.
In addition, he is also known for his great generosity for he is the founder of five charities known as The Dream Fund, A Time to Help charitable foundation, S. A. Y Detroit charitable foundation, A Hole in the Roof Foundation, and Have Faith Haiti Mission. As stated by the Mitch Albom’s website, The Five People You Meet in Heaven was his first novel and most successful hardcover adult novel. Even after the first novel, he still chose a similar topic pertaining to death, for instance, the next novel Tuesdays with Morrie which is about him spending time with his professor who is dying of the Lou Gehrig’s disease (Mitch Albom Bio 2009).
In conclusion, from this brief biography of Mitch Albom, I strongly believe that he chooses to write about topics of death because of his own personal life experiences with the loss of others; hence this is my theory for Mitch selecting such solemn topics because it is his way of continuing to help others such as his readers in this case to learn how to handle a loss or whatever other issues they may be going through more effectively.
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