Reviewed by Jean Arboleda
THE NEXT PERSON YOU MEET IN HEAVEN
By Mitch Albom
224 pages. Harper.
Fifteen years ago, Mitch Albom released The Five People You Meet In Heaven. It’s the enthralling story of Eddie, an amusement park mechanic who dies saving the life of a little girl named Annie. In the afterlife, he meets five people who help him answer the question about the true meaning of his life.
Fifteen years ago, I was in high school, and I can honestly say that it made me bawl just as much as his previous novel Tuesdays with Morrie had. I blame it on the emotional roller coaster that was puberty.
Now we have its highly-anticipated sequel, The Next Person You Meet In Heaven, which takes us through Annie’s journey. We meet her at the end of her life, as a young woman on her wedding day, and throughout the novel, we move backwards in time. Annie was physically scarred from the accident that killed Eddie (which she cannot recall), and is isolated from the world by bullying peers and a guilt-ravaged mother. As an adult, she reconnects with her childhood love, Paulo, but their happiness is cut short by a tragic accident. In heaven, she meets five people who teach her about the many ways her life affected theirs, and the lessons she failed to understand on earth. Loneliness and regret, love and loss – in heaven, everything is seen with fresh eyes.
“We fear loneliness, Annie, but loneliness itself does not exist. It has no form. It is merely a shadow that falls over us. […] The end of loneliness is when someone needs you. And the world is so full of need.”
Mitch Albom created a surefire formula for a bestseller, and he doesn’t stray far here. He knows what he’s good at, and what his audience likes. The Next Person You Meet In Heaven is a quick easy read that is almost guaranteed to make you feel all the things. It’s sentimental, melodramatic, and almost too predictable. I don’t know if this is merely a symptom of having matured as a reader, but this often felt like a 200-page long sermon without any real depth.
Which is not to say that I didn’t cry over this, because I did. Albom has made it almost impossible not to. Despite some rather formulaic twists, you will find yourself cheering for Annie, and wishing for her to find happiness. Make sure you have Kleenex on hand.
Jean will try anything once. She has, at different points in her life, worked in government, interviewed international celebrities, and been the social media manager for several brands. On any given day, she would rather be reading, preferably surrounded by puppies. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @jeanarboleda.
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]