Monday, January 2, 2012
197. the FIVE PEOPLE you MEET in HEAVEN
The Book Jacket Blurb:
Eddie is a grizzled war veteran who feels trapped in a meanigless life of fixing rides at a seaside amusement park. As the park has changed over the years -- from the Loop-the-Loop to the Pipeline Plunge -- so, too, has Eddie changed, from optimistic youth to embittered old age. His days are a dull routine of work, loneliness, and regret.
Then, on his 83rd birthday, Eddie dies in a tragic accident, trying to save a little girl from a falling cart. With his final breath, he feels two small hands in his -- and then nothing. He awakens in the afterlife, where he learns that heaven is not a lush Garden of Eden, but a place where your earthly life is explained to you by five people who were in it. These people may have been loved ones or distant strangers. Yet each of them changed your path forever.
One by one, Eddie's five people illuminate the unseen connections of his earthly life. As the story builds to a stunning conclusion, Eddie desperately seeks redemption in the still-unknown last act of his life: Was it a heroic success or a devastating failure? The answer, which comes from the most unlikely of sources, is as inspirational as a glimpse of heaven itself.
What Hooked Me:
I find myself gravitating towards inspirational books every January. There is something about the start of the new year that gets me every time. Could it be because it is my birthday month? And getting old makes me seek the wisdom that I am supposed to have by now? Whatever the reasons may be, this highly recommended book is perfect. For it is hard not to be swept away by Eddie's story, albeit some parts are too melodramatic even for me. It is hard not to be amazed in the reality that people we meet casually or bump into accidentally do affect and change our lives everyday. And as one finishes the book, it is equally hard not to indulge in that one pondering moment: of that awesome possibility that there are indeed five people in heaven who will explain one's life's meaning here on earth.
'This is a story about a man named Eddie and it begins at the end, with Eddie dying in the sun. It might seem strange to start a story with an ending. But all the endings are also beginnings. We just don't know it at the time.'(opening lines)
'Every life has one true-love snapshot.'(9)
'People often belittle the place where they were born. But heaven can be found in the most unlikely corners.'(34)
"There are five people you meet in heaven," the Blue Man suddenly said. "Each of us was in your life for a reason. You may not know the reason at the time, and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth."(35)
"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."(48)
"It is because the human spirit knows, deep down, that all lives intersect. That death doesn't just take someone, it misses someone else, and in the small distance between being taken and being missed, lives are changed."(48)
'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 centuried have seen courage confused with picking up arms, and cowardice confused with laying them down.'(57)
'War could bond men like a magnet, but like a magnet it could repel them, too. The things they saw, the things they did. Sometimes they just wanted to forget.'(65)
"Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on to someone else.'(94)
'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 into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.'(104)
'Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them -- a mother's approval, a father's nod -- are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishemnts, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.'(126)
"Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves."(141)
"Lost love is still love, Eddie. It takes a different form, that's all. You can't see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it.'(173)
'... the secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.'(closing lines)
a Hyperion First Edition