7. “Things that happen before you are born still affect you. And people who come before your time affect
you as well.” (123) - Ruby
Eddie does not understand, at first, why he is meeting Ruby in heaven. Although Ruby and Eddie never met, on earth, we still see the significance Ruby’s actions played in Eddie’s life. Ruby’s husband, Emile, built the pier for Ruby. The pier caught fire one year and Emile became injured. He and Ruby moved away and sold the pier. When Eddie’s father was dying in the hospital, Emile was staying in the bed next to him. The night before Eddie’s father died, Ruby saw him get out of his hospital bed and over to the window. He called for his family, Eddie, Eddie’s mother and Joe, right before he died. Had it not been for Ruby and Emile, there would have been no pier and Eddie would have never worked there. Since Ruby also saw Eddie’s father calling his name out the window, right before he died, she was also able to bring this to Eddie’s attention, which helped him see a different side to his father and to eventually let go of his anger toward him.
8. “…all endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.” (1) - Narrator
This quote is found at the very beginning of the novel and serves as the basis for the remainder of the story. The novel begins with the end of Eddie’s life however, it is the beginning of his journey in heaven where he will meet the five people who will help him finally see the meaning of his life.
9. “Children. You keep them safe.” (191) - Tala
When Eddie meets Tala, he still doubts the purpose of his life. He states that he was so sad because he never felt like he did anything with his life. He felt like he accomplished nothing and that he wasn’t even supposed to be on earth. Tala, the fifth person he meets in heaven, finally tells Eddie that his purpose in life was to keep the children safe at the pier. For his entire life Eddie had completely focused on the negativity of working at the pier and never realized just how many children he had kept safe by testing the rides and his daily maintenance work.
10. “You burn me.” (188) - Tala
This is a major turning point for Eddie and also the climax of the novel. Eddie always doubted and regretted his decision to run back into the burning hut, during the war. He felt so strongly that there was an innocent child in the fire however, before he could find out, the captain shot him to try and save his life. For the remainder of his life Eddie would question himself if there was a child in the fire, especially since he caused himself a chronic injury. When Tala tells Eddie that he burned her, he finally realizes that there was a child in the fire who he was trying to save. Eddie no longer has regret for running into the fire that night, and costing himself his leg injury.