I'm not going to wait until the end of the review today to summarize my book. The most important message of Fannie Flagg's Can't Wait to Get to Heaven? "Life is a gift."
And, Mrs. Elner Shimfissle celebrates life every day, and shares her joy in life with everyone she knows in Elmwood Springs, Missouri. If she hadn't wanted to share her figs, she wouldn't have been up on the ladder at her age, eighty-some, only to be stung by wasps. When she falls off the ladder, knocking herself unconscious, dying on the way to the hospital, everyone she knows realizes how much Elner means to them. It isn't only her niece, Norma, who mourns. It's Norma's husband, Macky, who sees Elner as his best friend and confidante. It's the editor of the newspaper, who tries to write the best obituary she ever wrote. It's a truck driver named Luther who once threw a stone at Elner's cat, and, in return, Elner took him under her wing. But, Elner Shimfissle isn't done yet. She's still going to change the world, one lawyer, one doctor at a time. Because Elner Shimfissle makes people examine their own lives. The woman who lived for every sunrise and every sunset, every snail, lived her life with very few regrets. And, her death makes other people realize they might not have appreciated their own moments of life.
Can't Wait to Get to Heaven is an older book, a selection from my book club. It's a joyous, charming book. Elner kept secrets for others, loved and laughed at knowledge, and shared her life with love. The book is filled with Fannie Flagg's eccentric characters. But, each of them has a life to share with others. The message of the book? One person can change others in small ways, but those changes have enormous power. In other words, "Life is a gift", and every minute should be celebrated and appreciated.
Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg. Random House. 2006. 1400061261 (large print ed.), 365p.
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