This novel's first and almost only main character is Eddie, an eighty-three year old man. He is a man who has lived almost his entire life on Ruby Pier, an amusement park right on the ocean. He is head of maintenance at the pier, which was his father's job when Eddie was a child. Eddie is the protagonist of the novel and a dynamic one at that, as the story covers the day he was born, died, and everywhere between the two. Eddie's wife, Marguerite, is dead before the novel begins. She died when they were in their late forties from a brain tumor. The story flashes back to the days they spent together and shows them together in the afterlife. She is also a very dynamic character. There are very few settings in this novel that can actually
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It starts out on Eddie's eighty-third birthday, where Eddie dies trying to save a little girl from a falling piece of a ride. He is then taken on journey through heaven where he meets five people, each with something to teach him about why his life happened. The people include: a Blue Man, a circus freak at Ruby Pier; Eddie's Captain during World War II; Ruby, the woman the pier is named after; Marguerite, Eddie's wife; a little Japanese girl that Eddie tried to save during the war. Some of these people Eddie barely remembers, and some of them he never even met. But they all had something to do with the way he lived.
Through meeting all of these people Eddie learns a lot about the purpose and story of his life. They tell him why certain things happened, and how they helped create the story of Eddie. But ultimately, Eddie learns that every story is really one big story, and that everybody, either directly or indirectly, affects everybody else's life.
"The Captain grinned. The way I see it, that's what we're getting here, soldier. That's what heaven is. You get to make sense of your yesterdays,'" (p. 92). The Captain is explaining to Eddie, in the afterlife, what heaven is all about. He mentions Adam from the Bible, saying how Adam didn't know what was happening to him on his first night on Earth. His eyes were closing and he thought he was leaving this world, but he woke up the next day and it was like everything was new again.