I will be skipping several books as I want to talk about the one I just read while it is still firm in my mind. After reading it, I have reaffirmed a conclusion that I have again and again when I stumble upon a certain type of book. There are many nice books out there that are fun and entertaining, there are also many good books, exciting books, and intense books but there are far less great books. All the categories, with the exception of the latter, are books that should be read by those that are interested in those genres. Great books, however, should be read by everyone because they do more than tell us a story; they show us a piece of what it means to be human and what life is really about. Mitch Albom’s, The Five People You Meet in Heaven is one of these books.
Eddie is the head maintenance worker at an amusement park by the sea, but when a terrible accident takes his life he finds himself in heaven where he meets five people who each have a lesson to teach him about the importance of his simple life; lessons that will define the nature of who we are and what we can become.
Day after day, Eddie is stuck working the same monotonous job. He dreams and wishes that his life could have taken him other places, to see other things, but instead he is stuck in a dead end job and the last place he ever wanted to end up. Lately this is how I’ve been feeling when I head off to work. It isn’t a bad job, and neither was his, but sometimes the same-day-every-day routine can make anyone begin to doubt the importance of their lives. But that is the beauty of this book… everyone’s life is important to a lot of people even when we may not think that highly of ourselves.
I was touched. I will admit, I cried at the end and I felt a sense of enlightenment that can only come from reading great fiction. It isn’t an action packed plot with dramatic romance and supernatural forces fighting for power. Rather, it is the simple story of an ordinary man living an ordinary life. Yet it’s funny how the most touching stories are often the ones that we never thought were worth telling.
As an assignment for my creative writing class we had to write a piece of creative nonfiction. I struggled. I still do. From an aspiring writers perspective this book showed me that the ordinary happenings of life can create a picture with the potential to provide a brief glimpse into the complexities of human nature. In the end this is what all art is about: displaying a piece of ourselves for the world to see.
P.S. The handsome cat modeling for the book is Roux. He’s technically our cat but mostly my wife’s.