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?"
"Albom, newspaper columnist and radio broadcaster, is, of course, best known as the author of the astonishingly successful Tuesdays with Morrie (1997). This is his first novel. With an appropriately fable-like tone, Albom tells the story of Eddie, "an old man with a barrel chest." But for us, Eddie's story "begins at the end, with Eddie dying in the sun"--at Ruby Pier, an amusement park by the sea, where he spent most days, for despite his advanced years, he worked as a maintenance man on the rides. He dies on his eighty-third birthday trying to save a little girl from an accident. Eddie wakes up in heaven, where he is informed that "there are five people you meet in heaven. Each . . . was in your life for a reason. You may not have known the reason at the time, and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth." And, not surprisingly, this is what the novel is about: Eddie coming to appreciate his 83 years of mortal life; the novel's "point" is that apparently insignificant lives do indeed have their own special kind of significance. A sweet book that makes you smile but is not gooey with overwrought sentiment. --Brad Hooper Copyright 2003 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
""At the time of his death, Eddie was an old man with a barrel chest and a torso as squat as a soup can," writes Albom, author of the bestselling phenomenon Tuesdays with Morrie, in a brief first novel that is going to make a huge impact on many hearts and minds. Wearing a work shirt with a patch on the chest that reads "Eddie" over "Maintenance," limping around with a cane thanks to an old war injury, Eddie was the kind of guy everybody, including Eddie himself, tended to write off as one of life's minor characters, a gruff bit of background color. He spent most of his life maintaining the rides at Ruby Pier, a seaside amusement park, greasing tracks and tightening bolts and listening for strange sounds, "keeping them safe." The children who visited the pier were drawn to Eddie "like cold hands to a fire." Yet Eddie believed that he lived a "nothing" life-gone nowhere he "wasn't shipped to with a rifle," doing work that "required no more brains than washing a dish." On his 83rd birthday, however, Eddie dies trying to save a little girl. He wakes up in heaven, where a succession of five people are waiting to show him the true meaning and value of his life. One by one, these mostly unexpected characters remind him that we all live in a vast web of interconnection with other lives; that all our stories overlap; that acts of sacrifice seemingly small or fruitless do affect others; and that loyalty and love matter to a degree we can never fathom. Simply told, sentimental and profoundly true, this is a contemporary American fable that will be cherished by a vast readership. Bringing into the spotlight the anonymous Eddies of the world, the men and women who get lost in our cultural obsession with fame and fortune, this slim tale, like Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, reminds us of what really matters here on earth, of what our lives are given to us for. Backed by a $500,000 marketing campaign that includes a 30-city author tour, and boosted by the good will that millions will feel when they see Albom's name on the cover, this wonderful title should grace national fiction bestseller lists for a long time. Simultaneous Hyperion Audiobook, BOMC main selection. (One-day laydown Sept. 23) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved