The book is about 83 year old Eddie, who works on Ruby Pier, a seaside fairground. One of the rides malfunctions and comes crashing to the ground – he dies when he tries to push a young girl out of the way, and spends the whole book worrying that he hasn’t saved her.
When Eddie gets to Heaven, he realises that it’s not what he thought it would be. Instead, he meets five people who will help to explain his life and things that happened in it, as well as his death and the reason for it.
The first person he meets is someone that he doesn’t think he knows, but he recognises him to be someone from the ‘Freak show’ at the Pier when he was a child. Eddie is shocked when this man tells him that Eddie killed him. He explains that he didn’t kill him directly, but inadvertently when his ball rolls into the road, setting a chain of events going which ends up in the man dying. This man is the source of one of my favourite quotes from the book, :
Strangers, are just family you have yet to come to know
I loved this, and the meaning of the entire first part of the book, it makes you think quite closely about the effect you have on other people, and the consequences that your actions can have.
Throughout the book, Eddie also meets his Captain from when he was at war in the Philippines, a woman called Ruby (after whom the Pier was named), his wife Marguerite, and a young girl called Tala, who was killed in a fire started by Eddie when he was in the Philippines, whose eyes he thought he saw all those years ago and have haunted him since.
Out of all five people, I think the part of the book that was most touching was when he met his wife again – she died of cancer when she was 47, and Eddie lived the rest of his life alone in the house they shared together. My favourite quote from the book though comes from Ruby, when she is talking to him about his Dad:
Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.
That’s so true, and something that we all get wrong at times – we could all learn from this!
I really loved this book, I thought it was quite an unusual idea to start with, but it was really well written and you really start to feel for Eddie as the book goes on, to the point where you just don’t want it to end.