I mentioned the last time I posted that I was reading Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” I was half-way through when I posted, but I finished this morning. Here’s part of what I said about the book previously:
“It’s good, but in the long run, I’m not sure how memorable it will be.”
Sounds a little snippy and since I wrote this, I’ve had a good think about it. What I’ve concluded is that even the books I would consider to be among my favorites, I can’t say that I remember everything about them. I don’t have a photographic memory, so I can’t mentally reread them. The memorable-ness of my favorite books is reduced to a glow of fondness, an awe for an author’s writing skill, and/or a key point that gets woven into the fabric of my psyche. It’s only after I’ve read books many times that the actual language and order of plot become memorable in a recall sort of way. There are very few books/stories that I’ve reread often enough for this to happen. Among them are “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, “Charlie” by Joan Robinson, “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman, and “Oh Say Can You Say” by Dr. Seuss. (“Said a book-reading parrot named Hooey, the words in this book are all phooey. . . . .”) Neal Donald Walsch’s “Conversations with God” series also had a profound impact on me, particularly “God’s” statement that Hitler went to heaven. That’s heavy-duty stuff right there. It certainly made me rethink things philosophically.
Speaking of heaven, that brings me back to Mitch Albom’s book, “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” This book did everything a good book should do. It drew me right in and kept me reading. The language didn’t get in the way of the story. The characters were well developed and I was immediately on the side of Eddie, the protagonist, who is transformed by the end of the book. Albom was able to illicit an emotional response from me. At several points throughout the book, I was in tears, especially at the end. What seemed to be a predictable unfolding of the story at the half-way point became unpredictable at the end. I didn’t see it coming. For all of these reasons, I’d say Albom’s work is masterful.
I’m not sure it was memorable in the sense of me being able to recall the details of the story a year or two from now. I won’t know that until time has passed. What I will remember is that Mitch Albom can tell a tight, emotional story.