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The lead character in “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” is a grizzled war veteran named Eddie, who dies on his 83rd birthday. The character was inspired by my real-life uncle, Edward Beitchman, who was also a World War II veteran, who also died at 83, and also lived a life like that of the fictional character, rarely leaving his home city, and often feeling that he didn’t accomplish what he should have.

In the book, Eddie learns just how much he affected the world, especially for two little girls. One was Tala. The other, Annie, whose story continues in the new sequel, “The Next Person You Meet in Heaven.”

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