Book Review

The five people you meet in Heaven

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The five people you meet in Heaven


The five people you meet in Heaven


Mitch Albom;


Little, Brown; UK


0316726613 (hardback)


2003; 1st edition 2003


8 out of 10


I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though it brought me to tears several times. There's no denying it, this is a heartfelt story, well written and well presented. It will remind you to cherish the time you spend on earth, and remind you to let those that are dear to you know that you love them. We all need reminders such as these every now and then.

The book is dedicated to the author's uncle, who gave him his first concept of heaven. As the dedication states:

"Everyone has an idea of heaven, as do most religions, and they should all be respected. The version represented here is only a guess, a wish, in some ways, that my uncle, and others like him—people who felt unimportant here on earth—realize, finally, how much they mattered and how they were loved."

The story is based on the life of one person, and explores the relationships between this person and five others, who are reunited in heaven to help this individual understand their time on earth. The concept, though simple, is extremely powerful, and most effective in helping you get to know this person, and share their growing understanding of the meaning of their life.

Told in a narrative style, the story begins with a countdown of the last hour of the life of the main character. As the book explains:

"It might seem strange to start a story with an ending. But all endings are also beginnings. We just don't know it at the time."

We gain further insight through snippets of birthday celebrations woven through the story as chapter introductions.

The first person met in heaven explained that the greatest gift God can give you is to understand what happened in your life:

"People think of heaven as a paradise garden, a place where they can float on clouds and laze in rivers and mountains. But scenery without solace is meaningless."

Five people who crossed your path before they died—some you knew, maybe some you didn't—altered your life forever, and await to illuminate an aspect of your life for you that they know about. It is further explained:

"That there are no random acts. That we are all connected. That you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind."

In this book, there are many stages of heaven, and it's where time is unmeasured. Once you've met your five advisors, and gain enlightenment, it's your turn to enlighten others, people who's paths you have crossed and changed their lives forever.

The book is sprinkled with insightful messages about people, and life, and emotion. Gems such as:

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


"Young men go to war. Sometimes because they have to, sometimes because they want to. Always, they feel they are supposed to. This comes from the sad, layered stories of life, which over the centuries have seen courage confused with picking up arms, and cowardice confused with laying them down."


"All parents damage their children, It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair."

all build to make this book an enjoyable and thoughtful read.

I would thoroughly recommend this book to those adults which may wonder about the meaning of life, or about an afterlife. It does not preach, condone nor condemn religion. It doesn't even discuss it at all. It is a book about life and death. And one man's interpretation of what heaven may be like.
What is your idea of heaven?

Colin Ramsden, August 2004.

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