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Sat, Dec. 11th, 2004, 08:34 am

I finished reading Mitch Albom's "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and here are some thoughts and some quotes.

I thought this was a really sweet story about an elderly gentleman's trip to get to heaven by meeting five people who have affected his life.  It wasn't something along the lines, of the people who Eddie thought met the most to him, even though they did.  A lot of the people he met were people who just came into his life for a moment and then had to leave, or someone who did something in their life that eventually effected Eddie's life.  So the reason Eddie must meet the five people was to realize that all of our lives are greatly connected to one another and because of that no one is really ever alone.

The one point I didn't like was the fact that he had to forgive his father for being a bastard to him, for beating him and neglecting him, and then for the second half of Eddie's life, for ignoring him.  I'm not sure why this bothered me.  I didn't see why Eddie needed to forgive his bastard father to move onto Heaven.  It's god's place to do the forgiving.  I guess I'd just like to know that when I die and go to heaven, that that's it.  I go to heaven and get to spend eternity in my idea of paradise.  I don't want to have to do all this soul searching and forgiving those that have greatly wronged me, but I guess spite and hatred just do not belong in heaven so it's something Eddie along with everyone else must work through.

"No life is a waste.  The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone."

"Holding anger is a poison.  It eats you from inside.  We think that hating is a wepon that attacks the person who harmed us.  but hatred us a curved blade.  And the harm we do, we do to ourselves."

Mon, Dec. 20th, 2004 05:08 pm (UTC)

Last things first - I really enjoyed those two quotes, as well. They were the ones that stood out to me, too, and I thought they were valid and well-placed in the story.

In general, I thought this was a good book, though I must say I'm not likely to reread it, so I'm glad I got it from the library. I found it simplistic and sentimental, but a very easy and well-written read. I liked the concept of understanding our lives before we move on to help others understand theirs, and then eventually spend eternity where we want to be. I think that made sense (I imagine even immortal souls would stew over past mistakes and "I wonder what happened with this situation" if that weren't resolved first), and I enjoyed the "every life is intertwined" theme. However, I found the manifestations of these ideas to be executed in a trite fashion. The situations were cookie-cutter (you just *knew* he was going to have to face his father and the results of his actions in the war), but I suppose there is some justification in that all our lives contain old hackneyed patterns. I'll probably have to face the people I've wronged in the afterlife, too, and I doubt mine have been original experiences, either.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading the book in general; perhaps I asked too much of a best-seller to be original. It was nice to be reassured by the author that even the most boring of lives have meaning. It's like he's giving us permission to be content with the everyday occurences that make up 90% of our lives, which I agree is an important point. The "good"ness of our lives is not in the one spectacular moment at the end where we saved a child's life, but in the little things that happen over the years that make us into the sort of person who would sacrifice our lives for that child in the end.

For some reason, though this was also a little staged, as it were, I particularly appreciated the scene in which Eddie bathes the little girl he killed in the burning shack during the war. Washing off her scars and pain, and in so doing, washing off his own, seemed like a nice way of handling that situation. It made me glad to think that part of heaven is helping others, even after we can no longer do so in the waking world.

I agree with Patrick that I like the idea of going to heaven and that being the end of it, with no hoops to jump through or meaning to find. But the author's point of providing closure on your life when you die is rather comforting to me, so I can enjoy the "heaven" part knowing that my time on Earth was well-spent. Of course, I'm not entirely sure I actually believe in heaven, but if there turns out to be one, I'm happy enough to spend the first part of my time there making peace with myself before I enjoy God's eternal peace.

Fri, Dec. 31st, 2004 05:59 pm (UTC)

I think you guys said it best. There's really nothing I can add.

Have you guys seen the movie special? It was pretty true to the book.

And quite similarly to a couple of other books that are unoriginal in most of their content, I did cry because I felt I could relate, or the things described are tragic. Albom has a way of writing that makes every piece of the story and every word and letter significant to the entire book, but you don't really notice it while you're reading. I really enjoyed the book. :)