February 15, 2014


Book:  The First Phone Call From Heaven
Author:  Mitch Albom
Publisher: HARPER
Genre:  Religious & Inspirational Fiction

“Do you still feel things in Heaven mom?”- Tess
“Love”- Ruth
“Anything else?”- Tess
“A waste of time Tess”- Ruth
“What is?”- Tess
“Anything else.”- Ruth

Synopsis Via Goodreads:

The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. An allegory about the power of belief--and a page-turner that will touch your soul--Albom's masterful storytelling has never been so moving and unexpected.

Readers of The Five People You Meet in Heaven will recognize the warmth and emotion so redolent of Albom's writing, and those who haven't yet enjoyed the power of his storytelling, will thrill at the discovery of one of the best-loved writers of our time.

My Summary:

One ordinary Friday, several people from a small town called Coldwater in Michigan receive phone calls from departed relatives and an employee claiming they are calling from Heaven.  Different calls garner different reactions.

Best selling Author Mitch Albom
Katherine has been missing her sister Diane. Without her, life is at a standstill.  Tess on the other hand sees this miracle as redemption for the wrong she has done her mother Ruth.  Jack never stopped hurting from losing his son Robbie in Afghanistan.  Elias feels guilt over Nick, his former employee. 

Unfortunately, the one person who needs a phone call from Heaven the most doesn’t get it.  Sully, a former Navy jailed for a fault that was never his.  He lost everything, including the love of his life, Giselle, his wife.   When Katherine divulges to the world about the phone calls, people start proclaiming that there is a miracle in Coldwater, which soon enough, brings in hundreds of believers and non-believers alike.

While some are desperate to receive phone calls from their dearly departed themselves, others, particularly the non-religious sector call it a massive hoax.  Sully’s young son Jules, believes it to be real and waits to receive a call from his mother.

This desperation angers Sully into action.  He pushes to get answers, to reveal it as a massive deception.  But what if, out of the supposed hoax, a true miracle is borne?

My Review:

Books with religious themes often put me to sleep.  I don’t like preachy, long-winded stories that push one religion over others.  This is not one of those.

I have read Mitch Albom books prior to this one and I have always found his writing to be full of heart and honesty.  He doesn’t pull me into believing his faith yet he doesn’t push me away from it either.  My take away from his books is that I always have a choice in what I want to believe and that in the end, what’s most important is Faith.  Whether it be faith in oneself or in a higher being, what’s important is having one to begin with. 

The First Phone Call From Heaven is heavy on Faith, also on forgiveness and moving forth in life.  All the characters who receive the calls need them….to forgive themselves, to move ahead, to find peace, to renew their faith, to Live again.

I like Sully of all.  He is a strong man who has been weakened by the wrong done to him.  One mistake erased everything he worked for and loved in life.  The one thing he lives for is his son and he would do anything for his boy, and he does. He finds redemption and perhaps new happiness in the end which is technically a new beginning for him and Jules

The only thing that disturbed me about this book was the number of characters.  There was a lot, so much so that I tended to forget who I was reading about at times.  But then again one can blame my bad memory for that and not the writing itself because Mitch Albom is a great writer.  I really appreciated his News reports (via the character of Amy) as they were written very professionally, like reports I would hear from my friends who work in the media.  But then again, that’s no surprise as Albom himself is a sports journalist.

Overall, The First Phone call from Heaven is a great read for all.  Whether you are a person of faith or otherwise, this book will touch you, and maybe, give you a change of heart.  After all, Miracles do happen.

Here are some quotes from the book:

“So often, we push away the voices closest to us.  But once they’re gone, we reach for them”
“Doubt is how you find him”
“The media had two sides:  the side that wanted to get the news, and the side that wanted to make sure nobody else got it.”
“Even in the presence of a miracle, the human heart will say.  Why not me?”

The First Phone Call From Heaven is now available at National Book Store branches nationwide.

Photos have been lifted from mitchalbom.com and harpercollins.com

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