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The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom.
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The End Is the Beginning

One day, at Ruby Pier Amusement Park, a man named Eddie dies. Like most endings, Eddie’s death is also a beginning, even though he doesn’t know it. It is Eddie’s 83rd birthday.

Eddie spends his last day working at Ruby Pier Amusement Park, like he has for most of his life. His job is to maintain and fix the park’s many rides, attractions, and games. He always wanted to leave Ruby Pier. But after he came back from getting injured in the war, he felt stuck in his old life there.

Eddie hears screams. He looks up and sees that the Freddy’s Free Fall ride has a broken cart. He and his co-worker Dominguez are able to get the terrified passengers off the ride. But then, the broken cart begins to fall. Eddie sees a young girl sitting in harm’s way, so he runs towards her. The last thing he remembers is feeling her small hands in his.

Suddenly, he finds himself in heaven. Eddie learns that in heaven, you will meet five people. Each of these people played an important part in your life, even if you didn’t know it at the time. Meeting these people is meant to help you understand the meaning of your life.

Eddie’s First Person: The Blue Man

When Eddie first arrives in heaven, it looks like the Ruby Pier he knew as a boy. He gets up to look around and finds that his body and mind feel young again. He is able to run and he feels no pain or worry.

He hears a voice beckon him into a tent he recognizes from the freak show in his youth. Inside, he sees a man with blue skin. The man used to work at Ruby Pier when Eddie was a boy, but they never met.

The Blue Man’s Story

The Blue Man’s name is Joseph Corvelzchik. As a boy, Joseph was very nervous. When he got older, he went to a chemist to try and calm his anxiety. The pharmacist gave him silver nitrate, not knowing that it was a poison that would leave his skin permanently blue.

Joseph was outcast from society because of his blue skin. He was forced to take a job in the freak show at Ruby Pier. One day, Joseph was practicing driving in his friend’s car when he saw a baseball roll across the road. A young boy ran to chase it. Joseph swerved out of the way, but the stress caused him to have a heart attack. He died that day.

Every story has different angles. It turns out that the young boy chasing the baseball was Eddie on his seventh birthday. Eddie unknowingly killed the Blue Man.

The Blue Man’s Lesson

Eddie is worried that the Blue Man only told him this story to make Eddie pay for his part in Joseph’s death. But the Blue Man assures him that the lesson to take away from his story is that that all lives are connected and nothing is completely random. We shouldn’t waste any time thinking that we are alone.

Eddie’s Second Person: The Captain

Eddie finds himself in a desolate terrain. This is a place that has haunted Eddie for years. There are booming noises in the sky above him. Eddie army crawls through the mud to hide under a bush. After a while, he hears a familiar voice from high in the tree above him. Eddie is carried up into the tree, and sees his old Captain from the war.

Eddie’s Memories of War

Eddie enlisted for the war thinking that it would make him a man. He learned a lot of lessons from his time in the military, especially from his time in captivity.

Eddie was taken prisoner along with the Captain and three other men: Smitty, Morton, and Rabozzo. He suffered terrible conditions, including watching Rabozzo be shot in the head.

One day, Eddie convinced his guard to let him juggle some rocks. Eddie threw the rocks into the faces of the guards, and the prisoners were able to fight for their freedom. They killed their captors and decided to burn down the barracks.

Just as Eddie sent the last building up in flames, he saw a small shadow moving inside. He became manic, thinking he left a child burning inside. He couldn’t bring himself to leave the burning building until he felt an intense pain in his leg.

Sometime later, Eddie woke up in a medical unit. He learned that he’d been shot in the leg, and the wound will never fully heal. After that, Eddie was never the same.

The Captain’s Story

The Captain looks straight at Eddie and tells him that he was the one who shot Eddie in the leg all those years ago. He knew that Eddie would never have been able to leave that burning building, so he had to take Eddie’s leg to save Eddie’s life.

Later that night, the Captain was driving the transport with an unconscious Eddie in the back. He hopped out to look for danger on the road ahead. Just as he signalled to his soldiers that the road was clear, a land mine exploded under...

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The Five People You Meet In Heaven Summary The Five People You Meet In Heaven Guide The End Is the Beginning

This story begins at the end, on the day that a man named Eddie dies. Like most endings, Eddie’s death is also a beginning, even though he doesn’t know it.

Eddie spends his final hour at Ruby Pier amusement park, a place that he has worked for most of his life. He is the maintenance man, so his job is to maintain and fix the park’s many rides, attractions, and games. After so many years, he can detect problems with the rides just by listening to them. He is an old, resilient man. He has the stature and dress of a workingman, which is exactly what he is.

Eddie walks with a cane now because of a knee injury he got in the war. He has white hair and a strong, barrel chest. Despite Eddie’s past of alley fights in his youth, the park’s regulars trust Eddie and children like him. Many people have taken to calling him “Eddie Maintenance,” like it says on his name tag. He doesn’t think that’s funny.

Today is Eddie’s 83rd birthday. If he had known he was about to die, he would have gone somewhere else and done something new. He had always dreamed of leaving Ruby Pier behind and starting a different life. But he never got around to leaving after the war. So, he goes about his last...

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The Five People You Meet In Heaven Summary The Five People You Meet In Heaven Guide The Journey and Arrival

Eddie did not get to witness anything after his final breath. He didn’t see the cart shatter or the crowd on the pier. He remembers the little girl’s face as she cried and the feeling of her hands in his. Then what? He wonders if he was able to save her.

Eddie is floating in the sky, which turns from pink to yellow to green to sapphire. He feels calm. Any pain or sadness he had in life has vanished. He wonders where his worry has gone. Now, he is dropping towards a colorful ocean, but he is not afraid.

Eddie wakes up in a...

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The Five People You Meet In Heaven Summary The Five People You Meet In Heaven Guide Eddie Meets His First Person

“Don’t be afraid,” says the Blue Man. Although his voice is soothing, Eddie is still confused. He wonders why he is seeing this man that he never even knew.

The Blue Man begins to explain some things. He explains that Eddie feels like a young boy again because he was a child when the two crossed paths. He explains that, at this point, Eddie could have been dead for a minute, or an hour, or a thousand years. And he tells Eddie that he has come to heaven.

In heaven, the Blue Man explains, you will meet five people. Each of these people played an important part in your life, even if you didn’t know it at the time. Meeting these people is meant to help you understand the meaning of your life.

Although Eddie wants to ask the Blue Man questions, he finds he cannot speak. The Blue Man tells him that when you first arrive in heaven, you lose your voice so that you can listen. However, Eddie manages to make out one question—he asks how the Blue Man died. Slightly surprised, he smiles and says that Eddie killed him.

Eddie’s Seventh Birthday

For his seventh birthday, Eddie gets a brand new baseball. He and Joe play catch along Ruby Pier. Pretending to be a...

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The Five People You Meet In Heaven Summary The Five People You Meet In Heaven Guide Eddie Meets His Second Person

When Eddie’s feet meet the ground, he finds himself surrounded by rubble and lifeless terrain. The sky is changing colors again, from deep blue to dark gray. He feels his body, stronger than before but less flexible. Then, the sky explodes and hot air whips him in the face. Once again, Eddie starts to run. But this time, he runs like a soldier.

It starts to rain and Eddie hears a booming noise. Instinctively, he dives down and begins to army crawl through the mud until he reaches a rifle stuck into the ground with a helmet on top. This is how they used to mark a grave. Eddie reads the dog tags and is terrified to see his own name. Crouching under a bush, he remembers when he enlisted for the war.

  • When Eddie heard that his country was going to war, he immediately signed up. He felt it would make him a man. He had never fired a weapon, so he started practicing the shooting game in the arcade at Ruby Pier. One day, Mickey Shea, the man who had given Eddie his “birthday bumps” not so long ago, came up behind him while he was trying to shoot. Mickey warned him that in war, you can’t think about who you’re aiming at. You’ve just got to keep shooting. When Eddie turned to look...

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Shortform Exercise: Reflect on Sacrifice

The Captain teaches Eddie that we should be proud of our sacrifices. Reflect on your own sacrifices and how they’ve helped others or improved your life.


Think of a time when you had to make a difficult sacrifice. What did you feel you were giving up or losing?

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The Five People You Meet In Heaven Summary The Five People You Meet In Heaven Guide Eddie Meets His Third Person

Eddie feels himself lifted up on a strong wind. The sky gathers around him and then explodes into a million stars. He finds himself in the most beautiful mountain range, ankle-deep in snow that doesn’t make him cold or wet. In the distance, he sees a flickering light.

Eddie feels his body for clues about where he could be. He’s flabbier in the middle now, but still muscular in his arms. He squeezes his left knee and feels the familiar throbbing pain. Frustrated, he wonders why pain and deterioration would follow you in heaven.

Walking along the silent ridge toward the flickering light, he notices that it is the sign of a diner. Looking in through the glass door, he sees many different kinds of customers that appear to be from many different time periods and walks of life. Then, in the farthest booth from the door, he sees someone he thought he would never see againhis father.

Pounding against the glass, Eddie calls out for his dad over and over again as loudly as he can. But the man in the booth never looks up.

Eddie’s Twenty-Fourth Birthday

Eddie’s parents stand with Joe, Marguerite, and Mickey Shea in the hallway outside Eddie’s V.A. hospital room. They...

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Shortform Exercise: Release Misplaced Anger

Ruby teaches Eddie that his anger with his father has been acting as a poison against him. Consider what anger or resentment you could release from your life.


Think of a time when you blamed someone else for something that went wrong in your life. How did your anger or resentment toward that person change your attitude toward your own life?

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The Five People You Meet In Heaven Summary The Five People You Meet In Heaven Guide Eddie Meets His Fourth Person

Eddie looks around and finds himself in a circular room with plain brown walls, a wooden stool, and a mirror. But when he looks into the mirror he doesn’t see himself. Instead, he sees a row of doors behind him. He turns around to face them.

Eddie is startled when he coughs a deep, rattling cough. Then he notices that his skin is thin and dry, his stomach is soft with age, and his knee is stiff. He’s frustrated to realize that he is deteriorating with each new stage in heaven.

Eventually, Eddie starts to open the doors. Each one opens into a different wedding reception, seemingly in a different country. The first wedding might have been German or Swedish. The next door takes him to a Spanish wedding. He sees weddings in what he guesses to be Africa, China, and France. Each of these celebrations has different music and different customs. But to Eddie, they’re all pretty much the same.

Eddie avoided wedding receptions in life. He found them embarrassing. He didn’t want to dance or participate. If he had to go, he chose to stand in the parking lot smoking a cigarette. Now, walking through heaven in his maintenance clothes, he visits each of these weddings and wonders how this...

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Shortform Exercise: Consider Lost Love

Marguerite teaches Eddie that love does not have to end when life does. Rather, our love for those we’ve lost is still alive within us.


Remember someone you have loved and lost—any friend, family member, or romantic partner. What were some of the things you loved most about them?

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The Five People You Meet In Heaven Summary The Five People You Meet In Heaven Guide Eddie Meets His Fifth Person

Eddie is hanging in a white, silent place. The only noise is his own labored breathing. Eddie realizes that Marguerite is gone, and is overcome with an empty feeling. After some time, Eddie hears a noise and opens his eyes. This feels different than the first four areas of heaven he’s seen.

He hears the noise again—louder this time. It is a noise that has haunted his dreams. The sound is like a medley of squeals and cackles. He yells into the white void: What do you want?

Then, the noise changes. He hears running water and sees that there is now ground under his feet. He is relieved to see that the noise is nothing but the sound of thousands of children laughing and playing. He wonders if that is what he’s been dreaming about all this time, when he thought he was having nightmares.

One of the children catches Eddie’s eye. The young girl is standing on a boulder, and she motions for him to come towards her. In an attempt to follow, Eddie falls on his bad knee. A burst of wind picks him up and places him down right in front of the little girl.

More of Eddie’s Birthdays

  • Eddie is 51. It’s his first birthday since losing Marguerite. She would always insist...

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The Five People You Meet In Heaven Summary The Five People You Meet In Heaven Guide Epilogue

Ruby Pier Amusement park opened again three days after Eddie’s death. The story stayed in the newspaper for a week. Freddy’s Free Fall reopened the next year with a new name—Daredevil Drop. Dominguez took over Eddie’s job as the head of maintenance.

The apartment Eddie lived in for almost his entire life was rented out to someone new, and all of his possessions were put into a trunk. They were stored alongside some Ruby Pier...

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Shortform Exercise: Find Purpose in the Mundane

Throughout The Five People You Meet In Heaven, Eddie expresses many times that he feels he was meant for something other than Ruby Pier maintenance. He wanted his life to have purpose. Think about how you can add more purpose into the mundane tasks in your life.


What are some tasks in your life that you know you have to do but can’t find fulfillment in?

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Shortform Exercise: Communicate in Relationships

Eddie struggles to communicate with his loved ones. For example, he and his father were never able to tell each other their true feelings. He was never able to tell Marguerite the truth about the war and how it affected him. Eddie’s lack of communication had effects on his personal relationships. Reflect on how you communicate within your relationships.


Think of a difficult truth that you have struggled to tell a loved one in your life. Why were you hesitant to communicate honestly with that person?

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Table of Contents

  • 1-Page Summary
  • The End Is the Beginning
  • The Journey and Arrival
  • Eddie Meets His First Person
  • Eddie Meets His Second Person
  • Exercise: Reflect on Sacrifice
  • Eddie Meets His Third Person
  • Exercise: Release Misplaced Anger
  • Eddie Meets His Fourth Person
  • Exercise: Consider Lost Love
  • Eddie Meets His Fifth Person
  • Epilogue
  • Exercise: Find Purpose in the Mundane
  • Exercise: Communicate in Relationships