An elderly maintenance man for a theme park dies in a sudden accident while trying to save a little girl from a malfunctioning ride. The book describes the man’s trip through the first stage of heaven. During this experience, five people from Eddie’s past meet with him to explain their connection and to answer his questions about that period of his life. Outwardly, Eddie seems to be a simple man, but as the story of his past unfolds, we understand that Eddie has experienced child abuse, war, frustrated ambition, and the premature death of his wife. His burdens are eased by the five conversations and he is ready to move toward the next stage of heaven.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
We were a little mystified by the huge success of this book. Although the story deals with difficult issues, it has little depth or detail. We compared the book to one of the e-mail stories about guardian angels that make the rounds -heavy on the pathos, but no substance. We all agreed that this version of heaven (or purgatory) did not meet our ideas about the afterlife. Several of the people Eddie meets are only remotely connected to him and his conversations with those he has wronged are not the messy, raw confrontations of real life -only soothing pablum, yeilding a false sense of well-being.