The Five People You Meet in Heaven, a novel, tells the story of 83-year-old Eddie, who has just died saving a little girl from being run over by a roller coaster. After he arrives in Heaven, he is told that he will meet five people whose lives he affected while alive. Each person he encounters teaches Eddie a lesson about life and his place in it, allowing him to be at peace before entering Heaven.
The protagonist and main character around who the story centers; at the start of the story, he is killed on his 83rd birthday. When he awakes in heaven, he is taken on a journey to meet five people whose lives intertwined with his in many ways which he never expected.
Eddie's wife who he met at Ruby Pier and married after returning from World War II. Eddie would always remember "her waving over her shoulder, her dark hair falling over one eye." Marguerite has "olive skin" and "dark coffee eyes." She dies at the age of forty-seven of a brain tumor.
Joseph Corvelzchik, The Blue Man :
Joseph's skin had been turned blue when he was a boy because of repeated ingestion of silver nitrate, thought to be an effective medication at the time. He had been given this medication to cure his "nervousness" and bed-wetting at a late age, and Joseph simply attributed all the side effects to not ingesting enough. Handicapped by this disfigurement, Joseph eventually made a life for himself at Ruby Pier.
Joseph is a "middle-aged man with narrow, stooped shoulders, naked from the waist up. His belly sagged over his belt. His hair was closely cropped. His lips were thin and his face was long and drawn." He dies of a heart attack because of Eddie, when Eddie tried to get a ball off the streets and causes him to swerve his car to avoid hitting Eddie.
The Captain : Eddie's commanding officer at war. He has a "full head of dark hair" and looked to be "only in his 30s." The Captain saved Eddie's life by shooting him in the leg. He died by stepping on a land mine while checking to ensure if there was a clear path ahead for his men.
Ruby : A woman for whom Ruby Pier is named by her fiance Emile. Ruby's face was "gaunt, with sagging cheeks, rose-colored lipstick, and tightly pulled-back white hair." She wore "wire-rimmed spectacles over narrow blue eyes." She wore "a dress made of silk and chiffon with a bib-like bodice stitched with white beads and topped with a velvet bow just below her neck." Her skirt had "a rhinestone buckle and snaps and hooks up the side" while also holding a "parasol with both hands." She was a widow in her fifties.
Emile : Ruby's husband, who also created the original Ruby Pier. He wore "a chalk-stripe suit and a derby hat." He had neatly cut dark hair and a mustache that covered a constant smile. Emile was known for "his heavy, confident laughter" and being "a spender and a risk taker." He was injured in a big fire trying to save Ruby Pier from being destroyed.
Eddie's mother : Eddie's mother was known for her tenderness" towards Eddie and his brother Joe. She lived in a daze after the death of Eddie's father.
Eddie's father : He abused Eddie his entire life. He smoked cigars and was a card player. Eddie's father was remembered for his "discipline" or "violence" and "denial of affection" or "silence." He dies at the age of fifty-six of pneumonia.
Mickey Shea : He is a family friend. He worked with Eddie's father "fixing rides at Ruby Pier." Mickey is "fat, wears suspenders and is always singing Irish songs. Mickey attempted to rape Eddie's mother because of loneliness and depression. Mickey and Eddie's father fought, and Mickey was almost killed by Eddie's dad, but eventually, Eddie's dad ended up saving Mickey from drowning in the ocean, causing the pneumonia that killed Eddie's father".
Dominguez : He is Eddie's friend and coworker at Ruby Pier. He is "a lanky, bony-cheeked young man." He is planning to go to Mexico with his wife Theresa and eventually takes Eddie's job as head of maintenance.
Willie : Willie works the Freddy's Free Fall at Ruby Pier.
Amy : Amy or Annie is the "little girl with a pipe-cleaner animal". She is standing on the "ride's metal base" that one of Freddy's Free Fall's carts comes crashing down on. Eddie doesn't know whether or not he saved her until the end of the book.
Tala : Tala is a young girl Eddie sees in a burning hut. She is a Filipina, maybe five or six years old with "a beautiful cinnamon complexion, hair the color of dark plum, a small flat nose, full lips that spread joyfully over her gapped teeth, and the most arresting eyes."
Nicky : Nicky is a young man who visited Ruby Pier, and practically the reason why Eddie died. He dropped his car keys in the Freddy's Free Fall ride, causing its gears to jam and its cable to snap. Nicky claims to be Ruby's great-grandson.