“The Next Person You Meet in Heaven” is a sequel to “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom that takes off where the first ends.
In “The Next Person You Meet in Heaven,” Albom tells the story of a young girl, Annie, who, while visiting an amusement park is saved by a park attendant. The attendant, Eddie, who led a troubled life, loses his life while saving Annie. But Annie did not escape the incident without injury. Her hand was severed, but in a miracle of medicine, it was reattached. The surgery left scars on Annie, both emotional and physical.
Annie has no memory of the incident. As she grows, she must deal with the emotional trauma of the accident, which impacts her teenage years. Her guilt-ridden mother becomes overprotective, which hinders Annie’s personal growth.
Annie struggles with these emotional scars to find happiness. As a young woman, she reconnects with a childhood love who she later marries. The wedding is the high point of her life, but the evening ends in tragedy for her and her husband.
The wedding night events put her on the path to heaven, where she meets five people who have had a profound impact on her life. One of the people she meets is Eddie, the amusement park attendant who lost his life while saving hers.
The book reminds us that often, the most important person in our lives may be someone we never met or may only know briefly. A person has a heart attack, but is saved by a quick-acting EMT. Someone is in a very serious auto accident because of a drunk driver.
One of the thoughts that I gleaned is that many events in our earthly life seem to be random, but when we arrive in heaven their significance becomes apparent.
I found the book to be a difficult read. It did not flow smoothly, and the early chapters seemed disjointed. The final chapters tie the events together in a more coherent fashion. But overall, it’s unique, provocative and interesting. Readers will learn/relearn life’s lessons of love and compassion. They will be drawn from the daily business of earthly life and be forced to contemplate existence on a broader basis.