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The 22nd Annual Book Report Competition For Secondary School Students

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The 22nd Annual Book Report Competition For

Secondary School Students
The 1st Runner Up of English Junior Section

Name of School

: St. Paul’s School (Lam Tim)

Name of Award Student

: Ng Hiu Mei, Naomi

Title of Book Read

: The Five People You Meet in Heaven


: Mitch Albom

To most people, death is the end of human lives. From the religious perspective, we even possess an ‘afterlife’ either in ‘Heaven’, the place for the good or in ‘Hell’, the place for the bad. Such an iron law is totally reversed in ‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven’. It suggests that the afterlife is not for people to play but to understand the meaning of their whole life. ‘Death is never the end as what we expect, maybe it is a new beginning. We just do not know it at the time.’

The book begins with the death of the main character, Eddie, who sacrifices for a little girl in a car accident. His afterlife does not end in a happy ‘heaven’ but in looking back at his whole life through five people. During the life journey, Eddie learns an important lesson that all lives intersect. Death does not end someone nor does it mean someone is missing. Between the short distance of life and death, everything changes. The five people, whom Eddie knows or not knows, are somehow interrelated to him. I would say they are the lost pieces in his life puzzle, helping him complete his journey as to clear away all the unknown miseries.
Some people may query whether it is too ‘late’ to understand your own life till after death. The author provides an absolute negative answer by breaking through the conceptual definition of ‘life’. To him, human essence lies in the long-lived spirits and the sacred memories deep down in the living ones. The secrets of human lives are infinite for us to explore.
Forgiveness is one of the most important lessons I have learned from the book. Throughout Eddie’s life, he has been hurt by different people. Some of them even carve incurable scars in his heart. The captain, Eddie’s teammate in the World War battlefields, shot at Eddie mistakenly changing him from a strong, tough man into a cripple. His ill-tempered father, who never shows a sign of love, gave Eddie a miserable childhood. Despite their wrongdoings, Eddie forgives them at last as he learns to see and to think from other people’s points of view. No longer self-centered, Eddie tries to listen to the voice deep down in his heart. The respect for the captain and the unspoken love for his father overcome his anger. Such power of forgiveness is so great that it redeems not only people from remorse but also the wicked memory of Eddie’s life.
On purpose or not, Eddie also commits a serious crime, murder. The killing in the war produced a black hole in his memory which is too sorrowful to talk about. When he meets Tala again, an innocent girl who is burnt to death by him in the war zone, the remorse is too great to bear. All he can do is to beg for her forgiveness. Knowing it is Tala pulling him to heaven, Eddie understands he has already been forgiven. I think it is the most touching part of the plot as all the ugly sides of humanity are redeemed by forgiveness. It is not only a relieving moment for the characters but also a hopeful expectation for readers. Peace would only come when human beings know how to forgive and to love.
‘Life has to end. Love doesn’t,’ says Eddie’s wife, Marguerite, one of my favorite characters. Such strong message still echoes in my mind even after reading the book. Throughout the book, we know that Eddie misses his wife so much after she dies of cancer. He never mentions her to anyone as it is too painful to accept the truth that she is gone forever. Marguerite’s re-appearance in heaven teaches him as well as the readers that true love never ends. Even though she dies, her love still exists in the form of an irreplaceable memory. The reunion of Eddie and Marguerite forms a graceful picture to readers because even death cannot separate such a loving couple. Looking into the reality, a lot of people, especially teenagers, forget the true meaning of love. To them, love is merely a sparkle of fire with an easy-going feature. People never search deeper for the power of love, which includes both happiness and pain. One has to overcome obstacles and failures for the sake of ‘love’. Without rain, one never understands the importance of sunshine; without pain, one never values the importance of love.
The complicated life philosophy turns into an exciting narrative in the book. Instead of giving readers difficult and boring lectures, the author is tactful enough to convey his ideas of life and death into an ‘afterlife journey’. I agree with him about the definition of heaven. It is not necessary to be a ‘perfect’ place where you live with God. Indeed, everyone has his own heaven, where he can find peace and love. The characters in the story are either poor or ordinary but they all share the same kind of happiness which is above the materialistic level. As long as we care for and are cared for by others, happiness is never far from us.
Mitch Albom describes death as a sudden and unexpected moment. It also reminds us to cherish the very little time we live on Earth. We should not take every day for granted but rather, we should make good use of it to brighten our lives.

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