The First Phone Call From Heaven (Mitch Albom)

Rating: 3 Stars

In the small town of Coldwater, Michigan some of the residents being to get mysterious phone calls from their loved ones in Heaven. While most of them are ecstatic to hear the voices of the people they’ve loved and lost and sharing this miracle with the world (news reporters showing up, outsiders who believe – and protesters who do not, swarm the town) one man is hell bent on proving this “miracle” is nothing but a hoax.

This book was both amazing and not so amazing. The ‘chosen ones’ who receive these calls are a pretty solid list of people (and we all know how much I can’t stay focused on individual story lines when there’s more than, like, three characters – max.)

We have:
Elias Rowe – Call from Nick Joseph (an old colleague of his, whom he fired prior to his death)
Katherine Yellin – Call from Diane Yellin (her sister)
Tess Rafferty – Call from Ruth Rafferty (her mother)
Jack Sellers – Call from Robbie Sellers (his son who died at war)
Doreen (nee Sellers – divorced from Jack Sellers) – Call from Robbie Sellers (her son who died at war)
(With a few other’s who are briefly mentioned and not really a part of the actual plot – just filler.)

And then there’s Sully Harding whose wife died in a car accident (though he doesn’t receive any calls) and he sets out to prove the entire thing is fabricated by some sick person playing a trick on the town, driven by the fact that his young son carries a plastic phone with him – hoping his mother will call: breaking Sully’s heart.

Now, it was a good book. I’m a little unhappy with the ending (which I won’t spoil) since Mitch Albom has pretty much cornered the market on books about death (The Five People You Meet in Heaven, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, Tuesday’s with Morrie, For One More Day, even Have a Little Faith touches on it a bit, from what I can tell based on the synopsis [Note to Self: Buy Books.]) And not just the market on books about death, but the market on an afterlife and what comes next.

So I was a bit disappointed with it.

I won’t lie – every time someone got a call from their loved one I sobbed (how beautiful it would be if we could call Heaven whenever we wanted to) but the ending was at once both disappointing and beautiful. It certainly left you with a bit of the Albom/Death relationship that I’ve come to expect from his books.

And for anyone wondering – he currently has eight books (seven of which are about death and dying) with a ninth book being released in November of this year (which I haven’t looked into much, yet.)

Anyway, despite the fact that it had more than three main characters, all with individual lives and backstories to keep track of, I did love this book. It pulled at heartstrings, it was nostalgic in the way that anytime we remember a lost loved one, it is nostalgic and bittersweet.

I found this book easier to keep track of because (knowing my terrible memory) once I hit the third character’s story I started making a list of who everyone was and what their basic story line consisted of.

I recommend this book in the way that I recommend all of Alboms books. They’re quick reads if you just want to cry for one full day and get through the whole thing!

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