Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis: [from bn.com]
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 he tries to save a little girl from a falling cart. He awakes 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 don't really know what I was expecting from this book. I was a little hesitant because I was afraid the book was going to have a preachy tone. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the book. And it was such a quick and easy read that packed a big emotional punch, a perfect combination. This was my first book by Mitch Albom and I've heard his first book, Tuesdays with Morrie, is good I think I might try his others ones first.
The story starts out at the end of Eddie's life. The head of maintenance isn't a terribly hard job, but it fills Eddie's days at Ruby Pier. After a freak accident with one of the amusement park rides on his 83rd birthday, Eddie dies and goes to Heaven. It is there he meets five people from his life that have somehow had an affect on him.
Each of the five people have something to teach Eddie - something that will help him better understand his life and what it means. This is where I feared the book would become preachy, but it didn't! I totally believed in the lessons and the characters that were chosen for Eddie's teachers. I eagerly kept turning pages to see who all five people were and what they would be teaching Eddie.
Over the course of the book, Albom provides flashbacks of Eddie's life. They are on subsequent birthdays that turn out to be pivotal moments in his life. It is here I learned what kind of person Eddie was while living and how he came to be the person I first met at the beginning of the story. Instead of being a cranky old man stereotype, Eddie became someone that was layered with different emotions and characteristics that quickly drew me to him.
I had a bunch of passages I wanted to share but I think I'll save them for you to discover. I will share one line that really is a lesson in itself, but won't ruin any part of the story.
"Life has to end," she said. "Love doesn't." (173)
I don't want to go into any of the other characters or any other part of the story because I really feel you should read it for yourself. It's a really quick read so I definitely recommend anyone who hasn't read this yet to pick it up. It's a sweet and yes, even life-teaching novel that I think a lot of people would enjoy.
While searching for the book cover to put in this post I came across this picture and found out that there is a movie. I found the trailer for it here. Looks pretty good, I'll definitely have to get it on Netflix or something and check it out.