Book Review by Zinta Aistars
# Hardcover: 198 pages
# Publisher: Hyperion, 2003
# Price: $19.95
# ISBN: 0786868716
I had read Tuesdays with Morrie some years ago, and liked it so much that I bought several copies as gifts. This time, I had decided to bypass Albom's newest, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. My reasons? The book was getting so much hype, and, well, something about that process, perhaps my personal bias, but I go into avoidance when I smell "sheep mentality." Unfair, no doubt, and no doubt with such a bias I do miss a good book now and then. But this time I had also caught a portion of the movie based on this book (Jon Voight is an excellent actor, and so I let the remote cool during my channel surfing), and while Voight still impressed me, the storyline did not. Man dies in accident via doing good deed, feels generally discontent with his life, but meeting 5 key people in heaven whose lives he had touched in either good or not so good way, he learns key lessons and finds the value he had missed in life. (If this seems a reminder of the much meatier classic, It's a Wonderful Life, you're right, it is, and I prefer the former classic.)
Then it was Christmas. In my household, books are a traditional gift. My niece, a reader and writer in her own right, gifted me "Five People." (A few years prior, I had gifted her Tuesdays.) Okay. It was meant to be. I cracked open the cover and tried to keep an open mind. So, yeah, not bad. Simple if not at times simplistic writing. Predictable plot. No new message or moral of the story. But on occasion Albom did manage to please my sensibility for good writing, and now and then, I admit, the story moved me.
Five People is not high on my list of favorite books. Not even the high range of middling. But that it was a gift from my niece makes it a treasure, and it is a pleasant read if one is looking for a moment's escapism.