Book Review: Five People You Meet In Heaven

This book by Mitch Albom is I think his second release after his best selling work, Tuesdays With Morrie. Although Five People is 200 pages short, it took me a month to finish this otherwise easy reading. This probably drained all the initial hype I have in reading this book. I finished the last page feeling indifferent and kind of lost as to what the whole book was all about. Well, it dealt with life after death but surely the five people met in heaven each had its own lesson to tell.

What made me somewhat uncomfortable reading this fiction was that from the very beginning I did not believe in meeting five people in heaven as one dies. Yes it was fiction and Mitch Albom presented one theory of life after death to create a book. Still, all those scenes in heaven with people who Eddie (the main character) encountered in his earthly life one way or another, failed to touch me because first of all, I think the whole re-meeting in the after life is, well, not exactly true.

Maybe my corporeal mindset about death and the after life completely burdened me in my reading. I don’t want to turn this review into cynicism. Suffice it to say that the book failed to give me this certain feeling I was looking for when I read Tuesdays With Morrie. TWM was more real and poignant. It touches the heart. It presented real life drama of an old man dying with invaluable lessons imbibed throughout the book.

Five People is good but maybe it’s just not for me. Eddie, after his death, met five different people in heaven who all helped him analyze his earthly life, the fifth person being a Filipino child, just for trivia. Each of them had a story to tell Eddie, tried explaining his mortal life, and all had a lesson to share. With the help of these people in heaven, Eddie came to realize that his ordinary life in the amusement park was not exactly a failure. He achieved his own mark on earth and that was enough. My only problem here is that what are all those lessons for once you stop breathing? If a soul regrets, does he regret forever? If not regret, then what purpose serves his late realizations and understandings of his life on earth? In the first place, does a soul stay forever? If I go deeper, I will touch on religion already which remains confusing even after four years of Jesuit education (forgive me, Fr. Nebres!).

It was a simple book yet I failed to grasp its essentiality. I was waiting for something more to happen but I reached the last page feeling empty. Like so? What happens now that Eddie met those five people? He learned from all of them. What now after all the realizations? I was even looking forward to a twist in the end, like maybe the girl he tried saving in the amusement park he worked for also died, and that girl would be the last person he’ll meet in the list of five. But no. The last person he met in heaven was a Filipino child who burned during a war here in the Philippines.

Anyways, perhaps my dissatisfaction merely stems from my different view about the after life. But I cannot label this book as crap, especially when a lot of bookworms are all raves for it. Let me just quote this lone sentence which for now remains my only attraction in the book: Strangers are family you have yet to know. That has got to be the most positive angle given to a stranger. Very nice. =)

Currently reading FRUITCAKE by Eraserheads. No offense to Mitch Albom but I guess this is much better. I'm also looking forward to reading NEVERWHERE by Neil Gaiman which I bought secondhand just recently.
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