Reviewed by Jody Uy
THE NEXT PERSON YOU MEET IN HEAVEN
By Mitch Albom
224 pages. Harper.
First of all, I am a crybaby.
Second of all, it was probably not a good idea to read this in school.
Picture this: a 20-something year old girl, sitting by the corridor, Mitch Albom book in hand, tear-stained cheeks, snot running down her nose, trying to keep her head down in case someone walks by.
Such was my fate as I was reading The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, which is admittedly the first Mitch Albom book I’ve ever read. This book is actually a sequel to a previous novel of his, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and follows the story of Annie, the little girl who was saved by the grisly maintenance man Eddie in the first book.
As I mentioned, I had never read a Mitch Albom book before, so I don’t have any basis for comparing this one with his other books—I wouldn’t be able to tell if this was better, worse, or just as good as any of his previous works. What I can tell you, however, is that this can definitely be read as a standalone. It’s a book with a simple yet hard-hitting message that resonates deeply with people. It tackles universal ideas on hurt and healing in a very illustrative and evocative way that both younger and older readers will appreciate. Albom is able to string together simple words and use simple language to get his point across, weaving a story that is both heartbreaking and hopeful for readers to journey along. It’s easy to get sucked into the world of the book (I finished this in roughly a day!) and his idea of heaven as well. While it may cater more to those who believe in a specific religion (since there are specific images of heaven and a mention of God), it may also be neutral enough for those who are not religious or religious in the Catholic or Christian sense to appreciate.
However, while the novel is simple in its writing and its story, it may also leave readers wanting something a bit more. The book itself is rather short, and touches lightly on a wide array of topics and messages, though never deeply enough in my opinion. Readers who are used to engaging with much lengthier and more contemplative books may find this one a little lacking in depth. Annie’s five people each leave her with a different lesson to learn that I personally wanted to explore and linger on a little longer. As she jumped from each landscape of heaven to meet each of her five people, I couldn’t help but be surprised by how quickly she was going through the experience. Fleshing out some of the messages and concepts would have helped cement the ideas Albom wanted us to walk away with.
Nevertheless, I really enjoyed reading this book as I do tend to gravitate towards some of the simpler and shorter reads every once in a while when school threatens to choke me with theories and readings that are difficult to comprehend.
The book’s simplicity is, all in all, a double-edged sword. Depending on the reader’s preference, it could be seen as a book filled only with quotable quotes and not enough of an exploration into the message Albom wants to send. For others, however, it could be a book that is hard-hitting and evocative with its simple story on hurt and healing.
For readers looking for a simple, not too lengthy, yet hard-hitting read, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven would be perfect for you. And for readers with looser and freer flowing tear ducts, make sure you have some tissue with you.
Jody is currently an undergraduate student taking up Education and is discovering everyday the greatest bits about reading and learning that fuel our thinking. When she’s not drowning in readings for class, she drowns herself in music, books, and the wonders of the Internet. You can find her on Instagram @ohfishness.
[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.]