I’ll come out and be honest here, I didn’t like the book. Not at all. I read it because it was left behind on a bookshelf of an apartment I was renting. I wouldn’t have bought it for myself unless it was in a discount bin. (Which incidentally, was where the previous owner bought this copy from.)
First of all a practical issue about the book: if you meet 5 people in heaven who give you information about the meaning of your life, before you can move on to the next stage of the afterlife, in order to balance up the numbers, you’d have to give your story to 5 more people. Not one, which the book implies. There’d be a huge imbalance in the numbers. But that’s just a little niggling thing before I get to the meat of why I think this book is a pile of meaningless dribble.
So, it’s a pile of Western, feel good, white, middle class, Christian dribble. It gives you the message to put up with the problems in your life because that’s what God wants of you. It’s all about building character and so on. Your role in life is to sit down, be quiet and take what’s given to you. For the main character, Eddie, that might be appropriate. But I think that’s where a lot of people miss the message of this book. It’s the 5 people that Eddie meets that are appropriate for him. And the message they give him, is just that, it’s for him. Not you. Not me. Like the Chicken Soup for the Soul books (also dribble), you might read it and have 5 minutes of warm fuzzy feelings to make you feel better. But once it fades, you’ve still got bills to pay, children to feed and a stressful job to go to. There’s no point waiting until Heaven to see if it was all worth it. If you have problems now, then deal with them now. Don’t think it’s all just a test from God and that’s your place in the world. The meaning of life is what you make of it now. Not later. Go read something else. I suggest Mark Rowlands’ The Philosopher at the End of the Universe.