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Have you ever thought about how many books you have read because you happen to be in a location where there were limited activities available at certain times? You elect to choose a book to read from a meagre selection. I'm thinking about a cabin or cottage with no television or other electronic amenities. Or a visit to a friend or family member where you discover that, while you are used to arising at six in the morning, the rest of the household sleeps in until eight. Or a bus tour in a foreign country where the tour leader has, as most do, a bin of left behind novels of considerable variety and genre.
Very recently, in a similar situation, I read The Five People you Meet in Heaven. This book was published a few years ago and later made into a movie. The main character is a maintenance worker at a seaside amusement park. My quick research revealed that it was on the New York Times bestseller list for 95 weeks. (Interestingly, it was filmed locally and my husband met the main character, Jon Voigt, when he was casting in local schools for a young girl to play one of the 'people'. Not only that but my daughter was an extra in the film but I somehow I still didn't read the book or see the movie!) Now, I'm glad I've read the book. I think this book is what would be described as 'high concept' -- a really different idea. I found it to be engaging, engrossing, shocking and charming at different times.
The book's segments dealing with the chance encounters we have with people and how they lead to a fork in the road or even a great change for either them or ourselves. There are no random events; we are all connected. There are spontaneous decisions that we make that have lifelong ramifications. The misunderstandings that lead to decades of resentment or grief. The futility of war. The endurance of love. A lot to think about . . .