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.
The antagonist, belligerent drunk, not very supportive or caring towards his sons. He worked at Ruby Pier and often returned home drunk and was violent toward Eddie and Joe. He hurt Eddie in three major ways, throughout his life, by silence, violence, and neglect. He saves his friend, Mickey Shea, from drowning which causes him to catch fatal pneumonia.
The Blue Man
The first person Eddie meets in heaven. He was a sideshow worker at Ruby Pier when Eddie was a child. He was killed as a result of Eddie running in the street after his ball. The Blue Man teaches Eddie his first lesson, which is that there are no random acts in life, and that all incidents are intertwined in some way.
The second person Eddie meets in heaven; his former war captain. He explained that, although he shot Eddie, he kept his promise by not leaving him behind and even sacrificed his life so Eddie and two other soldiers were able to live. He also teaches Eddie that when one loses something, they often gain something else.
The third person Eddie meets in heaven and also Ruby Pier's namesake. She teaches Eddie to let go of his anger and to forgive his father for the damage he caused in his life.
Eddie’s wife and only true love. Marguerite was the only happiness in Eddie's life. She is the fourth person he meets in heaven and she teaches him the lesson that love is not lost with death.
The fifth person Eddie meets in heaven. Tala was the little girl who Eddie saw crawling into the burning fort during the war. Although he lived most of his life in denial, he finds out in heaven that he did kill her in the fire. She teaches Eddie that his life did have a purpose which was to keep children safe at the pier.
A maintenance worker at Ruby Pier and friend of Eddie. After Eddie's death he plays a part in retrieving Eddie's documents and telling the pastor about Eddie's life for his funeral service. Dominquez also took over Eddie's job at Ruby Pier after his death.
Eddie's brother who grows to have a life and family in Florida.
A caring, typical mother figure throughout the story. Later in the story we learn that she was almost abused by Mickey Shea, which, in turn, lead to her husband's death.