Eddie is a wounded war veteran, an old man who has lived, in his mind, an uninspired life. His job is fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. On his 83rd birthday, a tragic accident kills him as tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakens in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a destination. It’s a place where your life is explained to you by five people, some of whom you knew, others who may have been strangers. One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit, their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his “meaningless” life and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: “Why was I here”.
I listened to this book on audio and I really enjoyed the experience. Mitch Albom is most famous for his first book, Tuesdays With Morrie, but I actually enjoyed this book more. I know the points this novel tries to make aren’t life changing or unique, but I still found it to be moving and heartwarming. It was beautifully written and the audiobook was produced really well. It made me think about life, which isn’t something I usually do. I found the book to be really inspiring, and it’s hard to elicit that reaction from me.
I’m not a religious person by any means and I don’t believe in the idea of Heaven, but this novel still spoke to me and I don’t think it’s necessary to be religious to enjoy it. Even though this book draws a lot of criticism for being pretentious or trying too hard, I thought the language was beautiful, and I never found it to be pretentious. I also thought the character of Eddie was developed really well. He was a little bitter and jaded, but it seemed genuine. All of the supporting characters were also really dynamic and I don’t think there was a character in the novel that I disliked or felt disingenuous.
I really recommend this novel, and I recommend the audiobook version of it as well.