Everyone reads a book differently. Yes, the author’s words are the same, but as readers we bring our own set of baggage, history, memories to the books we read. As part of a book club, I read Mitch Albom’s best-selling novel, “The 5 People You Meet in Heaven.” One of the reasons we chose this selection were the many recommendations this book received which included words like uplifting, inspirational and moving. I believe those readers enjoyed this book and were changed even for a brief while because of it.
Unfortunately, for the author and myself, I did not benefit from reading this one and I don’t have very positive words in this review. I won’t give away the journey, but as the title suggests, this is a book about the death of a person and who and why he meets his 5 people once he died.
The main character, Eddie, was quite old at death and lived his life in my past. He grew up, lived and died at the boardwalk. It was called Ruby Pier, but it just as easily could have been called Keansburg Boardwalk. My childhood haunt where I spent countless summer hours. Albom succeeded in reawakening my memories of my past. I could smell the sausage and pepper sandwiches, envision the old squeaky rides with excited children, remember the many sunburns pre-SPF sunblock.
Sadly, I read this book a few months after Super Storm Sandy. My old childhood memories are gone, washed away under water, buried under sand and even dragged out to sea. Even watching the storm devastation from afar was heartbreaking and stressful, and I lost part of my childhood. My home will never be the same again. Couple that emotional roller coaster (pardon the pun), with my current life situation of being isolated, lonely and alone while tapering off a dangerous mis-prescribed medication which will take a year of my life (Ativan, a benzodiazepine), this book didn’t move or inspire me. The emotional toll of reading this while in my current state of body and mind wrecked havoc on my sleep for days.
I won’t rate this one by stars, and I won’t recommend or not recommend. That just wouldn’t be fair. Perhaps when I am healed, I will revisit and see if I “get” the lesson Albom was preaching.