Following on from his well-known classic, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom continues the format following one of the key characters from the first book.
Whereas “Five People” perhaps deals more with bringing purpose and meaning to the relationships we have over a lifetime, how we affect others for good, “The Next Person” focusses a little more on finding peace. Having had a troubled life, surrounded by trauma, guilt and loss, Annie meets her five people to take her through a process of learning the truth, finding forgiveness and healing. The end result creating a person who can remain at peace with her time on earth.
In Mitch’s usual style, it is imaginative and creative, a wonderfully written story that pulls on the emotions.
The underlying life lesson is that despite what we may see or experience in other people, there is always more going on beneath the surface. In our lives, we deal with more than anyone truly knows, having valid reasons for behaving the way they do. From the outside it is often unseen, or difficult to comprehend, but actually it is not for us to judge. We don’t know what people are walking through.
It also highlights how we live interconnected lives, even when we don’t realise it. Our actions and decisions can impact others around us, sometimes without us having any knowledge or understanding.
This is a fascinating story of intertwined existences, as Annie discovers why these five individuals had such an impact on her life, allowing her to deal with the many issues along the way.
Mitch presents this initial arrival in heaven as a healing process, which mirrors own thoughts. I feel it has to be an opportunity to release our baggage, to learn and face up to the truths of a life lived, and cleanse ourselves. To heal all the scars that we collect along the way.