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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Sports columnist, radio talk-show host, and author of Tuesdays with Morrie, Albom has written a parable quite different from his best-selling memoir about his old professor but with the potential to follow it as a favorite of the book club circuit. At an oceanside amusement part, 83-year-old maintenance mechanic Eddie is killed while trying to save a little girl. Instead of floating through the cliched tunnel-and-light territory, Eddie meets five people whose lives intersected with his during his time on Earth. The novel comes down firmly on the side of those who feel that life matters, that what we do as individuals matters, and that in the end there will be a quiz. The touchy-feely phobic need not be afraid: this is not judgmental ax-grinding; nor does it favor any religion. Before you finish reading, you can't help thinking about your own life-Albom's whole point, of course. Morrie fans will want to read this first novel, and readers daring to examine their own lives may enjoy as well. For all public libraries.-Mary K. Bird-Guilliams, Wichita P.L., KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

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
Summary
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?"
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