The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The novel’s protagonist, a lonely, elderly man who has spent his life working in maintenance at Ruby Pier, an amusement park by the ocean. Eddie is from a working-class family of Romanian origin, and he is tough, hardworking, and concerned about the well-being of others. Abused by his father throughout his youth, Eddie learns to keep his emotions inside. As a young man, he works at Ruby Pier with his father to save up to study engineering elsewhere. When WWII begins, however, Eddie enlists to prove his masculinity, and is sent to an island in the Philippines. When he returns, he marries his sweetheart, Marguerite. After the war, Eddie spends the rest of his life fighting depression. His depression worsens as everyone he loves dies before him. At the beginning of the novel, Eddie dies and begins a journey through heaven, where he travels through endless colors, and meets five important people who will each teach him a lesson.

Eddie Quotes in The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The The Five People You Meet in Heaven quotes below are all either spoken by Eddie or refer to Eddie. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Hachette Books edition of The Five People You Meet in Heaven published in 2006.
Chapter 1 Quotes

His plans never worked out (…) Like his father before him, like the patch on his shirt, Eddie was maintenance – the head of maintenance – or as kids sometimes called him, “the ride man at Ruby Pier.”

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie
Related Symbols: Ruby Pier
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

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For the rest of his life, whenever he thought of Marguerite, Eddie would see that moment, her waving over her shoulder, her dark hair falling over one eye, and he would feel the same arterial burst of love.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Marguerite
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

Later, she will walk him along the pier, perhaps take him on an elephant ride, or watch the fishermen pull in their evening nets, the fish flipping like shiny, wet coins. She will hold his hand and tell him God is proud of him for being a good boy on his birthday, and that will make the world feel right-side up again.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Eddie’s Mother
Page Number: 24-25
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

People think of heaven as a paradise garden, a place where they can float on clouds and laze in rivers and mountains. But scenery without solace is meaningless. This is the greatest gift God can give you: to understand what happened in your life.

Related Characters: The Blue Man (speaker), Eddie, God
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

Sometimes you have to do things when sad things happen.

Related Characters: Eddie’s Mother (speaker), Eddie
Related Symbols: Birthdays and Celebrations
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 10 Quotes

You are here so I can teach you something (…) That you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.

Related Characters: The Blue Man (speaker), Eddie
Page Number: 47-48
Explanation and Analysis:

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It is because the human spirit knows, deep down, that all lives intersect. That death doesn’t just take someone, it misses someone else, and in the small distance between being taken and being missed, lives are changed.

Related Characters: The Blue Man (speaker), Eddie
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

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Strangers (…) are just family you have yet to come to know.”

Related Characters: The Blue Man (speaker), Eddie
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

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No life is a waste (…) The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.

Related Characters: The Blue Man (speaker), Eddie
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 14 Quotes

As always with Marguerite, Eddie mostly wants to freeze time.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Marguerite
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

Adam’s first night on earth? (…) He doesn’t know what sleep is. His eyes are closing and he thinks he’s leaving this world, right? Only he isn’t. He wakes up the next morning and he has a fresh new world to work with. But he has something else, too. He has his yesterday (…) That’s what heaven is. You get to make sense of your yesterdays.

Related Characters: The Captain (speaker), Eddie, God
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

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Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.

Related Characters: The Captain (speaker), Eddie
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

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Sometimes when you sacrifice something, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.

Related Characters: The Captain (speaker), Eddie
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Eddie’s Father
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

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Eddie privately adored his father, because sons will adore their fathers through even the worst behavior. It is how they learn devotion. Before he can devote himself to God, or a woman, a boy will devote himself to his father, even foolishly, even beyond explanation.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Eddie’s Father
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 21 Quotes

How can he explain such sadness when she is supposed to make him happy? (…) She looks beautiful wearing the print dress Eddie likes, her hair and lips done up. Eddie feels the need to inhale, as if undeserving of such a moment. He fights the darkness within him. “Leave me alone,” he tells it. “Let me feel this way, I should feel it.”

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Marguerite
Related Symbols: Color and Darkness
Page Number: 118-119
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 23 Quotes

The old darkness has taken a seat alongside him. He is used to it by now, making room for it the way you make room for a commuter on a crowded bus.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie
Related Symbols: Color and Darkness
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 24 Quotes

Religion? Government? Are we not loyal to such things, sometimes to the death? (…) Better to be loyal to one another.

Related Characters: Ruby (speaker), Eddie, Eddie’s Father, Mickey Shea
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 28 Quotes

What people find then is a certain love. And Eddie found a certain love with Marguerite, a grateful love, a deep and quiet love, but one that he knew, above all else, was irreplaceable. Once she’d gone (…) he put his heart to sleep.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Marguerite
Page Number: 155-156
Explanation and Analysis:

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That was my choice (…) A world of weddings, behind every door. Oh, Eddie, it never changes, when the groom lifts the veil, when the bride accepts the ring (…) They truly believe their love and their marriage is going to break all the records…

Related Characters: Marguerite (speaker), Eddie
Related Symbols: Birthdays and Celebrations
Page Number: 156-157
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 30 Quotes

…Eddie admitted that some of his life he’d spent hiding from God, and the rest of the time he thought he went unnoticed.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, God
Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 35 Quotes

He was nothing now, a leaf in the water, and she pulled him gently, through shadow and light, through shades of blue and ivory and lemon and black, and he realized all these colors, all along, were the emotions of his life.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, Tala
Related Symbols: Color and Darkness
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 36 (Epilogue) Quotes

And in that line now was a whiskered old man (…) who waited in a place called the Stardust Band Shell to share his part of the secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Eddie, “Amy or Annie”
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:

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Eddie Character Timeline in The Five People You Meet in Heaven

The timeline below shows where the character Eddie appears in The Five People You Meet in Heaven. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
...unnamed, omniscient narrator counting down the last sixty minutes until the death of the protagonist, Eddie. It is an ordinary day at Ruby Pier, an amusement park on the ocean where... (full context)
The Connection Between All Humans Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
The narrator continues the countdown of minutes to Eddie’s death. With 30 minutes left to live, Eddie encounters Dominguez, a cheerful young man who... (full context)
Redemption and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Value in Ordinary Life Theme Icon
Time Theme Icon
With 26 minutes left to live, Eddie tiredly pounds his cane to warn a group of balking teenagers to get off the... (full context)
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With 19 minutes left to live, Eddie sits down in an aluminum beach chair behind the rides, in what is described as... (full context)
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With 14 minutes left to live, the novel returns to Eddie, warmly remembering his first dance with Marguerite at Ruby Pier on the dance floor once... (full context)
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Eddie suddenly hears a woman screaming, and he moves as quickly as he can towards the... (full context)
Chapter 2
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The novel flashes back to Eddie’s birth in a poor hospital in the 1920s. Eddie’s father is smoking cigarettes in a... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Eddie has just died, and he is now floating through a series of vibrant changing colors... (full context)
Chapter 4
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The narrative flashes back again. It is Eddie’s fifth birthday, and he is playing at his father’s feet while his father plays a... (full context)
Chapter 5
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In the mysterious afterlife, Eddie wakes up alone in the Ruby Pier of his childhood. Surprised at how young and... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Eddie feels like he is dreaming. The Blue Man explains that he is dead and in... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Eddie is seven years old, playing ball with his older brother, Joe. The ball rolls into... (full context)
Chapter 8
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In heaven, Eddie denies killing the Blue Man. Calmly, the Blue Man tells his story. Born Joseph Corvelzchik,... (full context)
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The novel returns to Eddie’s childhood. Eddie has again lost the ball he received for his birthday the year before... (full context)
Chapter 9
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It is Eddie’s eighth birthday, and he is complaining that he doesn’t want to attend the funeral that... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Eddie feels remorseful that the Blue Man died from his own foolish childhood mistake, and pleads... (full context)
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The Blue Man transports Eddie to the memory of his funeral. Eddie realizes he was there as a child—and it... (full context)
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The Blue Man embraces Eddie, and Eddie suddenly feels all of the emotions the Blue Man felt during his time... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...present day, a crowd gathers, gaping, around the scene at Ruby Pier just moments after Eddie’s death by the falling cart. Nobody wants to get close to the scene, but nobody... (full context)
Chapter 12
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It is Eddie’s seventeenth birthday, and he is sitting on his bed reading comic books when his mother... (full context)
Chapter 13
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In heaven, Eddie wakes up on a familiar battleground in a decimated jungle during a storm. He hears... (full context)
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...go to war because they confuse battle with bravery. The story now flashes back to Eddie’s youth, when World War II was taking place. For Eddie, working at Ruby Pier and... (full context)
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In heaven, Eddie surveys the ruined jungle and realizes this is the place that has long haunted his... (full context)
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The novel flashes back in time. Eddie and his unit—Rabozzo, Morton, Smitty, and the Captain—are in the Philippines and are being held... (full context)
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...falls down while working in the coalmine. Crazy Two forces him to keep working, and Eddie tries to defend him. In response, Crazy Two leans down and shoots Rabozzo in the... (full context)
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One day, Eddie sees Crazy Three juggling coal, and he decides to show him the correct way to... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Further back in time, Eddie is a young man about to ship off to war, and his family and friends... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Back in the Philippines, Eddie and his unit burn down the village of their now-dead captors. Fueled by their suffering... (full context)
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In heaven, the Captain asks Eddie if he remembers how he got out of the village fire, and Eddie can’t recall.... (full context)
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The Captain tells Eddie that the only protection he could offer his men was his mantra that nobody gets... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Eddie expresses his sadness that the Captain died so young, and his guilt that the Captain... (full context)
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The Captain tells Eddie that he is there to teach him about the importance of sacrifice. He explains that... (full context)
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Eddie remembers from the Blue Man that people waiting in heaven can make it look as... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Another wind picks Eddie up, and he travels again through the colors of heaven. He travels through the stars,... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Eddie is recovering in a Veteran Affairs hospital, after being returned home from war. His mother,... (full context)
Chapter 20
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The narrator summarizes Eddie’s memories of his parents. As a young child, Eddie tried to get his father’s attention,... (full context)
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At rare times, however, Eddie’s father would give out small gestures of approval, and Eddie hungered for these moments, and... (full context)
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The narrative now shows Eddie after he has come back from the war. He is in a deeply depressed state,... (full context)
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A woman wearing a long skirt and a parasol speaks to Eddie outside of the diner, and introduces herself as his “third person.” She tells him his... (full context)
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The woman with the parasol tells Eddie that she knows him, even if he doesn’t know her. She then tells him her... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Eddie is thirty-three years old today, and he wakes up sweating from a recurring nightmare: wandering... (full context)
Chapter 22
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In heaven, Ruby continues telling Eddie her story. On one Fourth of July, some drunken workers accidentally set Ruby Pier on... (full context)
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The story flashes back to the night of Eddie’s thirty-third birthday. Eddie’s father is in the hospital with pneumonia, which started a week before... (full context)
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When Eddie’s father finally dies from the pneumonia, Eddie only feels the “emptiest kind of anger.” He... (full context)
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All through Eddie’s life, he has tried to avoid the fate of working at Ruby Pier like his... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Is it Eddie’s thirty-seventh birthday, and he is having breakfast with his friend Noel, who works for the... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Ruby tells Eddie that his father wasn’t as bad as he seemed. Ruby brings Eddie to a scene... (full context)
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Ruby explains that Eddie’s father died from the pneumonia he caught on the beach the night he saved Mickey... (full context)
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Ruby reminds Eddie of how weak his father was in the hospital, and how he was unable to... (full context)
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Ruby tells Eddie she cares about him and his father because Eddie’s father was sharing a hospital room... (full context)
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Reflecting on the new details about his father’s death, Eddie reminds Ruby again of how abusive his father was to him. Ruby tells Eddie she... (full context)
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Left alone now, Eddie walks up to the diner window, and again watches his father sitting inside. Eddie’s father... (full context)
Chapter 25
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On earth, nobody has come to the morgue to collect Eddie’s few personal effects, including his wedding ring. The park employees have arranged a funeral for... (full context)
Chapter 26
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Alone again, Eddie finds himself in a room with a row of doors. He realizes he is starting... (full context)
Chapter 27
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It is Eddie’s thirty-eighth birthday, and he is in the maintenance shop with his brother, Joe, who has... (full context)
Chapter 28
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Eddie is stunned to see Marguerite in heaven, and insists that it can’t be her. He... (full context)
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Marguerite tells Eddie that she also met five people in heaven, and learned things, and that she has... (full context)
Chapter 29
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Eddie is at the horseracing track with Noel on his thirty-ninth birthday. Eddie bets again after... (full context)
Chapter 30
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...and Marguerite’s condition, the couple is unable to go through with the adoption. Marguerite and Eddie are disconnected for a while, because of Eddie’s guilt and Marguerite’s resentment. Eddie’s friendship with... (full context)
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...Though she is only 47 years old, she goes home to spend her last days. Eddie makes a big dinner, and invites over all their friends and relatives. He pours extra... (full context)
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In heaven, all Eddie wants is time with Marguerite. They spend countless nights and days, talking and walking through... (full context)
Chapter 31
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After a long time in heaven, Marguerite tells Eddie that she knows he was angry with her for dying. He eventually admits he was,... (full context)
Chapter 32
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On earth, Dominguez is walking with a detached, hurried estate attorney into Eddie’s apartment. Dominguez comments on how tidy Eddie kept his apartment, and thinks of how he... (full context)
Chapter 33
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Surrounded by silence and whiteness, Eddie misses Marguerite terribly. He feels nothing, and a long time passes in that empty place.... (full context)
Chapter 34
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It is Eddie’s fifty-first birthday, his first birthday since Marguerite died. He remembers how much he hated his... (full context)
Chapter 35
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In heaven, the little girl by the river introduces herself as Tala. She invites Eddie to sit with her on a mat. She tells him the Tagalog words for things... (full context)
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Eddie is in shock, but asks her questions to find out what happened. In broken, childlike... (full context)
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Tala picks up a stone, and tells Eddie “You wash me.” Reluctant and unsure, he follows her into the river. She takes off... (full context)
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Eddie knows now that he is coming to the end of this part of heaven, and... (full context)
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The river now rises above Eddie, and all the children but Tala disappear. Eddie feels himself letting go of all the... (full context)
Chapter 36 (Epilogue)
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After Eddie’s death, Ruby Pier stays closed for a week before re-opening. The ride that killed Eddie,... (full context)