The Next Person You Meet In Heaven is Mitch Albom’s new novel, and a sequel to his bestseller, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Albom, you may recall, rose to prominence with his hugely successful memoir, Tuesday’s With Morrie.
If you are new to his novels, you are in for a delightful and a different sort of reading treat.
One needn’t have read either its prequel or any other Albom novel, to enjoy it, it can stand on its own merit – the book’s story is clever and imaginative and along the way there are twists and surprises.
The accident that killed Eddie left an indelible mark on Annie. Injured, scarred and unable to remember why, Annie’s life is forever changed by a guilt-ravaged mother who whisks her away from the world she knew. Bullied by her peers and haunted by something she cannot recall, Annie struggles to find acceptance. When, as a young woman, she reconnects with Paulo, her childhood love, she believes she has finally found happiness.
But when her wedding night ends with an unimaginable accident, Annie finds herself on her own heavenly journey – and a reunion with Eddie, one of the five people who will show her how her life mattered in ways she could not have fathomed.
I had the joy, and privilege of attending one of two book launches held on Mitch Albom’s recent South African trip. Let me attempt to restrain myself from gushing, but Mr Albom was absolutely fantastic in person. Modest, caring, witty, genuine, enthusiastic and colourful and most of all a very human, human being. The intimate hour he spent with us could have gone on for five hours and we would have been spellbound. He came across like a most welcome guest in one’s home lounge.
These human qualities are evident in The Next Person You Meet In Heaven. I read the book before attending its launch, and at first, I was not sure if it was going to my kind of a book, it was and then some. I must confess that I have given little or no thought to the afterlife, and heaven and hell are not places I have visited mentally before.
The idea that the first people one meets in heaven are five people who had a significant impact on one’s life on earth, is an appealing one indeed. And in this book, every life matters and every ending can be a beginning as well. One needs hope and a positive attitude. Who could disagree with that.
In a world peppered by gloom, doom and negativity and a social media full of trolls and bots, it is a joy to read a book that is positive and hopeful and encourages self affirmation. It is a delightful, uplifting read. Bravo and thank you, Mitch Albom.