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The First Phone Call From Heaven: A Novel

The First Phone Call From Heaven: A Novel

Автором Mitch Albom

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The First Phone Call From Heaven: A Novel

Автором Mitch Albom

оценки:
4/5 (44 оценки)
Длина:
329 pages
5 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Nov 12, 2013
ISBN:
9780062294395
Формат:

Описание

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.

Издатель:
Издано:
Nov 12, 2013
ISBN:
9780062294395
Формат:

Об авторе

Mitch Albom is a bestselling author, screenwriter, playwright and nationally syndicated columnist. The author of five consecutive #1 New York Times bestsellers, his books have collectively sold more than thirty-three million copies in forty-two languages worldwide. Tuesdays With Morrie, which spent four straight years atop the New York Times list, is now the bestselling memoir of all time. Four of Albom’s books, including Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day, and Have a Little Faith, have been made into highly acclaimed TV movies for ABC. Oprah Winfrey produced Tuesdays With Morrie, which claimed four Emmy awards including a best actor nod for Jack Lemmon in the lead role. Albom has founded six charities in and around Detroit, including the first-ever twenty-four-hour medical clinic for homeless children in America, and also operates an orphanage in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Albom lives with his wife, Janine, in metropolitan Detroit.

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The First Phone Call From Heaven - Mitch Albom

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The Week It Happened

On the day the world received its first phone call from heaven, Tess Rafferty was unwrapping a box of tea bags.

Drrrrnnn!

She ignored the ring and dug her nails into the plastic.

Drrrrnnn!

She clawed her forefinger through the bumpy part on the side.

Drrrrnnn!

Finally, she made a rip, then peeled off the wrapping and scrunched it in her palm. She knew the phone would go to answering machine if she didn’t grab it before one more—

Drrnnn—

Hello?

Too late.

Ach, this thing, she mumbled. She heard the machine click on her kitchen counter as it played her outgoing message.

Hi, it’s Tess. Leave your name and number. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can, thanks.

A small beep sounded. Tess heard static. And then.

It’s Mom. . . . I need to tell you something.

Tess stopped breathing. The receiver fell from her fingers.

Her mother died four years ago.

Drrrrnnng!

The second call was barely audible over a boisterous police station argument. A clerk had hit the lottery for $28,000 and three officers were debating what they’d do with such luck.

You pay your bills.

"That’s what you don’t do."

A boat.

Pay your bills.

Not me.

A boat!

Drrrrnnng!

Jack Sellers, the police chief, backed up toward his small office. If you pay your bills, you just rack up new bills, he said. The men continued arguing as he reached for the phone.

Coldwater Police, Sellers speaking.

Static. Then a young man’s voice.

Dad? . . . It’s Robbie.

Suddenly Jack couldn’t hear the other men.

Who the hell is this?

I’m happy, Dad. Don’t worry about me, OK?

Jack felt his stomach tighten. He thought about the last time he’d seen his son, clean shaven with a soldier’s tight haircut, disappearing through airport security en route to his third tour of duty.

His last tour of duty.

It can’t be you, Jack whispered.

Brrnnnng!

Pastor Warren wiped saliva from his chin. He’d been napping on his couch at the Harvest of Hope Baptist Church.

Brrnnnng!

Coming.

He struggled to his feet. The church had installed a bell outside his office, because at eighty-two, his hearing had grown weak.

Brrnnnng!

Pastor, it’s Katherine Yellin. Hurry, please!

He hobbled to the door and opened it.

Hello, Ka—

But she was already past him, her coat half buttoned, her reddish hair frazzled, as if she’d dashed out of the house. She sat on the couch, rose nervously, then sat again.

Please know I’m not crazy.

No, dear—

Diane called me.

Who called you?

Diane.

Warren’s head began to hurt.

Your deceased sister called you?

This morning. I picked up the phone . . .

She gripped her handbag and began to cry. Warren wondered if he should call someone for help.

She told me not to worry, Katherine rasped. She said she was at peace.

This was a dream, then?

"No! No! It wasn’t a dream! I spoke to my sister!"

Tears fell off the woman’s cheeks, dropping faster than she could wipe them away.

We’ve talked about this, dear—

I know, but—

You miss her—

Yes—

And you’re upset.

"No, Pastor! She told me she’s in heaven. . . . Don’t you see?"

She smiled, a beatific smile, a smile Warren had never seen on her face before.

I’m not scared of anything anymore, she said.

Drrrrrnnnnnng.

A security bell sounded, and a heavy prison gate slid across a track. A tall, broad-shouldered man named Sullivan Harding walked slowly, a step at a time, head down. His heart was racing—not at the excitement of his liberation, but at the fear that someone might yank him back.

Forward. Forward. He kept his gaze on the tips of his shoes. Only when he heard approaching noise on the gravel—light footsteps, coming fast—did he look up.

Jules.

His son.

He felt two small arms wrap around his legs, felt his hands sink into a mop of the boy’s curly hair. He saw his parents—mother in a navy windbreaker, father in a light brown suit—their faces collapsing as they fell into a group embrace. It was chilly and gray and the street was slick with rain. Only his wife was missing from the moment, but her absence was like a character in it.

Sullivan wanted to say something profound, but all that emerged from his lips was a whisper:

Let’s go.

Moments later, their car disappeared down the road.

It was the day the world received its first phone call from heaven.

What happened next depends on how much you believe.

The Second Week

A cool, misting rain fell, which was not unusual for September in Coldwater, a small town geographically north of certain parts of Canada and just a few miles from Lake Michigan.

Despite the chilly weather, Sullivan Harding was walking. He could have borrowed his father’s car, but after ten months of confinement, he preferred the open air. Wearing a ski cap and an old suede jacket, he passed the high school he’d attended twenty years ago, the lumberyard that had closed last winter, the bait and tackle shop, its rental rowboats stacked like clamshells, and the gas station where an attendant leaned against a wall, examining his fingernails. My hometown, Sullivan thought.

He reached his destination and wiped his boots on a thatched mat that read DAVIDSON & SONS. Noticing a small camera above the doorframe, he instinctively yanked off his cap, swiped at his thick brown hair, and looked into the lens. After a minute with no response, he let himself in.

The warmth of the funeral home was almost smothering. Its walls were paneled in dark oak. A desk with no chair held an open sign-in book.

Can I help you?

The director, a tall, thinly boned man with pallid skin, bushy eyebrows, and wispy hair the color of straw, stood with his hands crossed. He appeared to be in his late sixties.

I’m Horace Belfin, he said.

Sully Harding.

Ah, yes.

Ah yes, Sully thought, the one who missed his wife’s funeral because he was in prison. Sully did this now, finished unfinished sentences, believing that the words people do not speak are louder than the ones they do.

Giselle was my wife.

I’m sorry for your loss.

Thank you.

It was a lovely ceremony. I imagine the family has told you.

I am the family.

Of course.

They stood in silence.

Her remains? Sully said.

In our columbarium. I’ll get the key.

He went to his office.

Sully lifted a brochure off a table. He opened it to a paragraph about cremation.

Cremated remains can be sprinkled at sea, placed in a helium balloon, scattered from an airplane . . .

Sully tossed the brochure back. Scattered from an airplane. Even God couldn’t be that cruel.

Twenty minutes later, Sully left the building with his wife’s ashes in an angel-shaped urn. He tried carrying it one-handed, but that felt too casual. He tried cradling it in his palms, but that felt like an offering. He finally clasped it to his chest, arms crossed, the way a child carries a book bag. He walked this way for half a mile through the Coldwater streets, his heels splashing through rainwater. When he came upon a bench in front of the post office, he sat down, placing the urn carefully beside him.

The rain finished. Church bells chimed in the distance. Sully closed his eyes and imagined Giselle nudging against him, her sea-green eyes, her licorice-black hair, her thin frame and narrow shoulders that, leaned against Sully’s body, seemed to whisper, Protect me.

He hadn’t, in the end. Protected her. That would never change. He sat on that bench for a long while, fallen man, porcelain angel, as if the two of them were waiting for a bus.

The news of life is carried via telephone. A baby’s birth, a couple engaged, a tragic accident on a late-night highway—most milestones of the human journey, good or bad, are foreshadowed by the sound of ringing.

Tess sat on her kitchen floor now, waiting for that sound to come again. For the past two weeks, her phone had been carrying the most stunning news of all. Her mother existed, somewhere, somehow. She reviewed the latest conversation for the hundredth time.

"Tess . . . Stop crying, darling."

It can’t be you.

I’m here, safe and sound.

Her mother always said that when she called in from a trip—a hotel, a spa, even a visit to her relatives half an hour away. I’m here, safe and sound.

"This isn’t possible.

Everything is possible. I am with the Lord. I want to tell you about . . .

What? Mom? What?

Heaven.

The line went silent. Tess stared at the receiver as if holding a human bone. It was totally illogical. She knew that. But a mother’s voice is like no other; we recognize every lilt and whisper, every warble or shriek. There was no doubt. It was her.

Tess drew her knees in to her chest. Since the first call, she had remained inside, eating only crackers, cereal, hard-boiled eggs, whatever she had in the house. She hadn’t gone to work, hadn’t gone shopping, hadn’t even gotten the mail.

She ran a hand through her long, unwashed blond hair. A shut-in to a miracle? What would people say? She didn’t care. A few words from heaven had rendered all the words on earth inconsequential.

Jack Sellers sat by his desk inside the converted redbrick house that served as headquarters for the Coldwater Police Department. It appeared to his coworkers that he was typing up reports. But he, too, was waiting for a ringing.

It had been the most bizarre week of his life. Two calls from his dead son. Two conversations he thought he would never have again. He still hadn’t told his ex-wife, Doreen, Robbie’s mother. She had fallen into depression and teared up at the mere mention of his name. What would he say to her? That their boy, killed in battle, was now alive somewhere? That the portal to heaven sat on Jack’s desk? Then what?

Jack himself had no clue what to make of this. He only knew that each time that phone rang, he grabbed for it like a gunslinger.

His second call, like the first, had come on a Friday afternoon. He heard static, and an airy noise that rose and fell.

It’s me, Dad.

Robbie.

I’m OK, Dad. There’s no bad days here.

Where are you?

You know where I am. Dad, it’s awesome—

Then a click.

Jack screamed, "Hello? Hello?" He noticed the other officers looking over. He shut the door. A minute later, the phone rang again. He checked the caller ID bar. As with the previous times, it read UNKNOWN.

Hello? he whispered.

Tell Mom not to cry. . . . If we knew what comes next, we never would have worried.

Once you have a sister, you never stop having her, even if you can no longer see or touch her.

Katherine Yellin lay back on the bed, her red hair flattening against the pillow. She crossed her arms and squeezed the salmon-pink flip phone that had once belonged to Diane. It was a Samsung model, with a glitter sticker of a high-heeled shoe on the back, a symbol of Diane’s love for fashion.

It’s better than we dreamed, Kath.

Diane had said that in her second call, which, like the first—like all these strange calls to Coldwater—had come on a Friday. Better than we dreamed. The word Katherine most loved in that sentence was we.

The Yellin sisters had a special bond, like tethered children scaling small-town life together. Diane, older by two years, had walked Katherine to school each day, paved the way for her in Brownies and Girl Scouts, got her braces off when Katherine got hers on, and refused, at high school dances, to take the floor until Katherine had someone to dance with too. Both sisters had long legs, strong shoulders, and could swim a mile in the lake during the summer. Both attended the local community college. They cried together when their parents died. When Diane married, Katherine was her maid of honor; three Junes later, the positions were reversed. Each had two kids—girls for Diane, boys for Katherine. Their houses were a mile apart. Even their divorces fell within a year of one another.

Only in health had they diverged. Diane had endured migraines, an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and the sudden aneurysm that killed her at the too-young age of forty-six. Katherine was often described as never sick a day in her life.

For years, she’d felt guilty about this. But now she understood. Diane—sweet, fragile Diane—had been called for a reason. She’d been chosen by the Lord to show that eternity waits for the faithful.

It’s better than we dreamed, Kath.

Katherine smiled. We. Through the pink flip phone she held to her chest, she had rediscovered the sister she could never lose.

And she would not be silent about it.

The Third Week

You have to start over. That’s what they say. But life is not a board game, and losing a loved one is never really starting over. More like continuing without.

Sully’s wife was gone. She’d died after a long coma. According to the hospital, she slipped away during a thunderstorm on the first day of summer. Sully was still in prison, nine weeks from release. When they informed him, his entire body went numb. It was like learning of the earth’s destruction while standing on the moon.

He thought about Giselle constantly now, even though every thought brought with it the shadow of their last day, the crash, the fire, how everything he’d known changed in one bumpy instant. Didn’t matter. He draped himself in her sad memory, because it was the closest thing to having her around. He placed the angel urn on a shelf by a couch where Jules, two months shy of his seventh birthday, lay sleeping.

Sully sat down, slumping into the chair. He was still adjusting to freedom. You might think that after ten months in prison, a man would bask in liberation. But the body and mind grow accustomed to conditions, even terrible ones, and there were still moments when Sully stared at the walls, as listless as a captive. He had to remind himself he could get up and go out.

He reached for a cigarette and looked around this cheap, unfamiliar apartment, a second-story walk-up, heated by a radiator furnace. Outside the window was a cluster of pine trees and a small ravine that led to a stream. He remembered catching frogs there as a kid.

Sully had returned to Coldwater because his parents had been taking care of Jules during his trial and incarceration, and he didn’t want to disrupt the boy’s life any more than he already had. Besides, where would he go? His job and home were gone. His money had been depleted by lawyers. He watched two squirrels chase each other up a tree and kidded himself that Giselle might have actually liked this place, once she got past the location, the size, the dirt, and the peeling paint.

A knock broke Sully’s concentration. He looked through the peephole. Mark Ashton stood on the other side, holding two grocery bags.

Mark and Sully had been navy squadron mates; they flew jets together. Sully hadn’t seen him since the sentencing.

Hey, Mark said when the door opened.

Hey, Sully replied.

Nice place—if you’re a terrorist.

You drove up from Detroit?

Yeah. Gonna let me in?

They shared a quick, awkward hug, and Mark followed Sully into the main room. He saw Jules on the couch and lowered his voice.

He asleep?

Yeah.

I got him some Oreos. All kids like Oreos, right?

Mark laid the bags between unpacked boxes on the kitchen counter. He noticed an ashtray full of cigarette butts and several glasses in the sink—small glasses, the kind you fill with alcohol, not water.

So . . . , he said.

Without the bags in his hands, Mark had no distraction. He looked at Sully’s face—Sully, his old flying partner, whose boyish looks and openmouthed expression suggested the ready-to-go high school football star he once had been, only thinner and older now, especially around the eyes.

This the town you grew up in?

Now you know why I left.

How are you getting by?

Sully shrugged.

Look. It’s awful. What happened with Giselle . . .

Yeah.

I’m sorry.

Yeah.

I thought they’d let you out for the funeral.

‘Navy rules rule the navy.’

It was a nice service.

I heard.

As far as the rest . . .

Sully glanced up.

The hell with it, Mark said. People know.

They know you went to prison, Sully thought, finishing the unfinished sentence. They don’t know if you deserved it.

I tried to come see you.

Didn’t want to be seen.

It was weird for the guys.

Doesn’t matter.

Sully—

Let’s drop it, OK? I already said what happened. A million times. They believed something else. End of story.

Sully stared at his hands and punched his knuckles together.

What are you planning next? Mark asked.

What do you mean?

For work?

Why?

I know a guy near here. College roommate. I called him.

Sully stopped punching his knuckles.

You called before you saw me?

You’re gonna need money. He might have a job.

Doing what?

Sales.

I’m not a salesman.

It’s easy. All you do is sign customers back up, collect a check, and get a commission.

What kind of business?

Newspaper.

Sully blinked. You’re kidding, right? He thought about all the newspapers that had written about his incident, how quickly they had jumped to the easiest, fastest conclusion, reprinting each other’s words until they had devoured him, then moving on to the next story. He’d hated the news ever since. Never paid for another newspaper, and never would.

It lets you stay around here, Mark said.

Sully went to the sink. He rinsed out a glass. He wished Mark would go, so he could fill it with what he wanted.

Give me his number, I’ll call him, Sully said, knowing full well he never would.

Tess sat cross-legged on soft red cushions and stared out the bay window to the large front lawn, which hadn’t been mowed in weeks. This was the house she had grown up in; she remembered, as a child, curling in this very spot on summer mornings, whining to her mother, Ruth, who sat at a bridge table, reviewing her paperwork, rarely looking up.

I’m bored, Tess would say.

Try going outside, Ruth would mumble.

There’s nothing to do.

Do nothing outside.

I wish I had a sister.

Sorry, can’t help you.

You could if you got married.

I was already married.

There’s nothing to do.

Try reading a book.

I read all the books.

Read them again.

On and on they went, a jousting conversation that in some form repeated itself through adolescence, college, adulthood, right up until Ruth’s final years, when Alzheimer’s robbed her of her words, and ultimately of the desire to speak at all. Ruth spent her final months in a stony silence, staring at her daughter with her head tilted, the way a child stares at a fly.

But now, somehow, they were talking again, as if death had been an airplane flight that Tess thought Ruth had taken but later found out she’d missed. An hour earlier, they’d shared another inexplicable phone call.

It’s me, Tess.

Oh, God, Mom. I still can’t believe this.

I always told you I’d find a way.

Tess smiled through tears, remembering how her mother, a health food devotee, used to joke that even dead, she’d make sure Tess was taking her supplements.

You were so sick, Mom.

But there is no pain here.

You suffered so much—

Honey, listen to me.

I’m here. I’m listening.

The pain you go through in life doesn’t really touch you . . . not the real you. . . . You are so much lighter than you think.

Just the words brought Tess a blessed calmness now. You are so much lighter than you think. She glanced at the photo in her hands, the last photo of them together, taken at her mother’s eighty-third birthday party. You could see the price the illness had exacted—Ruth’s hollowed cheeks, her blank expression, the way her caramel sweater drooped on her skeletal frame.

Mom, how is this possible? You’re not using a phone.

No.

How are you speaking to me?

Something has happened, Tess. . . . There’s an opening.

An opening?

For now.

How long will it last?

A long pause.

Mom? How long will it last?

It won’t.

Miracles happen quietly every day—in an operating room, on a stormy sea, in the sudden appearance of a roadside stranger. They are rarely tallied. No one keeps score.

But now and then, a miracle is declared to the world.

And when that happens, things change.

Tess Rafferty and Jack Sellers might have kept their calls secret, but Katherine Yellin would not. Proclaim the good news to all mankind. That’s what the gospel said.

And so, on a Sunday morning, twenty-three days after Coldwater’s first mysterious phone call, Pastor Warren stood before his Harvest of Hope congregation, flipping pages in

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  • (4/5)
    Mitch Albom writes thought provoking books about life, death, faith and sprituality. This one did not disappoint. It will have you thinking about life after death and heaven. What do you believe?
  • (3/5)
    3.5 stars

    Mitch Albom can always be relied on for a moving, thought-provoking book. "The First Phone Call From Heaven" wasn't my favourite of his, but it was still an enjoyable read. My only criticism was that there were too many characters and so the book chopped and changed, making it difficult to follow at times. However, I did love the ending.
  • (3/5)
    This was my third Mitch Albom book. I enjoy his writing. This is a small town in Michigan where 8 people are receiving phone calls from people who have passed away. Is it real or a hoax? I believe your loved ones are looking down on you and approach you sometimes in your dreams. But calling you on the phone...not so much. It's interesting to see who people react. I liked the little Alexander Graham Bell information thrown in. It's an enjoyable book and is a pretty fast read. I recommend it.
  • (5/5)
    I received this book from TLC Book Tours, which is fabulous because it’s Mitch Albom! I mean, I’ve reviewed a few of his other books, and when I got the opportunity to read this one BEFORE it came out, it wasn’t even a question about saying yes!Keep it up, Mitch Albom, keep it up! The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom is another hit by the amazing author.All of a sudden, members of a small town begin to receive phone calls from their deceased loved ones, in their loved ones voices. That’s impossible, though! Are the phone calls really coming from heaven. . . or is this some sort of complicated fraud?For the full review, visit Love at First Book
  • (3/5)
    Very simplistic. People are so gullible to believe 5 people are speaking to their departed loved ones. It seems easily disproved , yet throngs of people come to the small town and believe. Not his best book
  • (3/5)
    A bit disappointed. It wasn't one of Albom's better novels.
  • (3/5)
    Good read for audiobook to listen while walking the dog. Enjoyed, and a little surprise at the end.
  • (4/5)
    I'm a fan of Mitch Albom and when I seen this book the title intrigued me. Knowing his previous work I knew this had to be good. I won't go into specifics on the story as there are plenty of more detailed reviews to read. The book catches you on the first page. The premise of someone calling from heaven is truly a thought provoking idea. I found the book an excellent read with well developed characters and lots of sub-plots. I does seem to drag a bit in the middle but the ending is very good and makes you feel the read is worthwhile. I wouldn't say it's Albom's best work but it is worth reading.
  • (5/5)
    Mitch Albom has hit the nail on the head once again with this awesome novel about a small town that has been 'blessed' with phone calls from the deceased loved ones. What would you do? Would you question it or would you immediately believe that it's really them? If you aren't sure then you'll fit right in. Stop by the little town on Lake Michigan and find out. A fantastic, moving story from the first page to the last.
  • (3/5)
    The title caught my eye right away.

    I enjoyed this book, I learned a lot about the development of the telephone by Bell.

    This is a story of a small town that certain people start getting calls from their loved ones that have died.
    The world goes nuts all trying to get to this town and touch a person, buy the same phone as the person, have the person pray with them, etc

    To be the side story is Sullivan.

    Quite a few characters to keep track of but a book I think most would enjoy.
  • (4/5)
    I must admit I did not see the end coming until about 2/3 into the book. Albom is an amazing writer. His stories are so gentle and carefully crafted. He is able to have an impact on the reader without the "pyrotechnics" that so many seem to need. Every one of his books have made me really think - and have all had a lot to say.
  • (5/5)
    Some days you simply need a feel good story. A story that will restore your faith in the universe. And that is the key to The First Phone Call From Heaven – Faith. An unexpected phone call is received by Tess Rafferty who happens to live in the small town of Coldwater, Michigan. It is from her deceased mother; and the call’s message brings much comfort to Tess. Shortly thereafter, a select few other residents of the town receive calls of their own from a deceased relative, friend, or business associate. Are these calls real? Can they be real? Is there truly a hot-line to heaven? As news of the calls spreads, the local police as well as all denominations of the local clergy find themselves thrust into the center of world-wide attention. On the other side of this miracle is Sullivan Harding. His story is one of despair and he tries to shield his young son from believing that his deceased mother will call him on a toy phone. Sullivan sets out to prove that this entire scenario is a hoax. But with the town becoming overrun with believers, news reporters, and protesters he has a tough time.This story is enchanting, humorous, serious, and believable. The characters are finely drawn and soon become old friends. Overall an easy read and an uplifting one. The story itself will have you second guessing the verity of the phone calls but the ending will have you believing that those on the ‘other side’ are listening, if not communicating. Mitch Albom fans are sure to love this story as will readers of Nicholas Sparks. I finished it in two days.
  • (2/5)
    disappointing
  • (4/5)
    Everything you could hope it would be. Well done, again, Mr. Albom. Another tale that will stay with me for a long, long time.
  • (4/5)
    In small town Michigan, a woman receives a phone call from a dead relative. She isn’t the only one. Soon, we learn that about half a dozen Coldwater residents have gotten calls from heaven. The calls are short and the callers want people to know that death is nothing to fear, that the afterlife is wonderful, and that everyone needs to know about it. Some embrace this knowledge whole-heartedly, some are doubtful, some just want to get a good story out of it. Everyone in Coldwater has their life changed by these phone calls from heaven.Like most of Mitch Albom’s books, this is a short read, but it packs a whole lot in. We see just how quickly a media circus can grow out of this sort of thing, and how easily people are willing to take such reassuring knowledge at face value. Overall I enjoyed the book.
  • (5/5)
    The Good Stuff I think we all know by know that I am not much of a religion girl, but won't lie I am a sucker for Albom's stories. Mostly because they deal more with faith than with religion pulls at your heart strings and makes you think - and cry A neat little mystery woven into this tale of faith, death, grief, forgiveness and hope You get a little history lesson about Alexander Graham Bell Realistic, likeable characters who have faults that we can all understand Gave me hope Got a kick out of the rivalry between the Catholic and Baptist church. Done very tastefully and with love Focuses on the power of belief, faith, hope and love - what more do you need. Albom always delivers in this area. This will be the perfect christmas present for anyone. Touching and beautiful, yet never saccharine - and most writers/readers will tell you this type of story can always go that way very easily Fast paced, quick read that feels like a giant hug from aboveThe Not so Good Stuff Makes me want a phone call from Mom, Dad and JerianneFavorite Quotes/Passages"The news of life is carried via telephone. A baby's birth, a couple engaged, a tragic accident on a late night highway -- most milestones of the human journey, good or bad, are foreshadowed by the sound of ringing.""Hell, the Bible says God spoke through a burning bush," Fred said. "Is that any stranger than a telephone?""Fear is how you lose your life ... a little bit at a time..What we give to fear, we take away from ... faith.""There is a time for hello and a time for goodbye. It's why the act of burying things seems natural but the act of digging them up does not."4.5 Dewey'sI received this from William Morrow (HarperCollins) in exchange for an honest review
  • (3/5)
    When I first started the book I did not want to put it down, however as I read on it started to feel a bit tedious and get a tad bit boring. The story accurately portrays how the world would react to the news that there are people actually receiving phone calls from heaven. Those who believe, those who don't turning the town where it is taking place upside down along with the lives of those in the town, not just any one receiving the calls. It does end strong with a large dose of emotion and hope. The historical facts on the invention of the telephone are a nice touch.
  • (4/5)
    "What happened next depends on how much you believe."After hearing of Mitch Albom’s latest novel, The First Phone Call From Heaven, I knew I had to read it. I’ve read his other novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which I loved, so I was really looking forward to his view of heaven in his new book. Luckily I won this book on GoodReads and started reading as soon as I could.The people living in Coldwater, Michigan see a drastic change in the small town as news of heavenly phone calls reach the rest of the world. The story follows around the lives of many characters who all react to the phone calls in different ways.Tess lives alone in her mother’s house and works at a day care center. She receives a phone call from her deceased Mother, whom she moved in with when she became ill. Tess doesn’t seem to know what to do with this information and stays home from work in fear of missing her mother’s phone call, but eventually she comes to terms with what she believes god has given her.Katherine is very devoted to her church, which she attends on a regular basis. She lives alone in her house when she gets a phone call from her sister that she was once very close with. Due to her strong religious beliefs, Katherine thinks it’s her duty to spread the word about this miracle as god’s chosen messenger.Jack is the town police chief who lost his son in the war and later got divorced to his wife, Doreen, after his son’s death. Both of them get a phone call from their son, however Jack seems to keep it to himself therefore everyone thinks only Doreen got a call from her son. He becomes very busy, dealing with the influx of people as they visit Coldwater in hopes of getting a phone call themselves, which he isn’t too happy about.Sully has been recently released from prison for a crime that is later explained in the story. His wife has died, while he was in prison, and now his son thinks his mother will call him because of all the recent phone calls from heaven. He is very skeptical of the whole miracle and sets off to find proof to disprove the phone calls as heavenly.Amy is a small time reporter trying to make it big in the news industry. She is the first reporter to cover the heavenly phone calls in Coldwater and quickly befriends Katherine as she follows her around. However, Amy is a non believer despite being close with Katherine.Pastor Warren works for the baptist church who is friendly with Katherine. However, when Katherine reveals the phone call phenomenon to him, he is very skeptical and tries to discourage her from revealing anything to the church.You do not have to be a believer or non believer to enjoy this book. Albom’s writing is intriguing as you get to experience how each character deals with the phone calls. The idea of heaven being real is contemplated by every character even if they are a non believer. As you read, you yourself begin to question whether or not the phone calls are real.
  • (4/5)
    Full disclosure - I am a First Reads winner of this book. Now on to the review.

    I have read Mitch Albom before and loved him, but I have been reading murder mystery type books lately so I was worried that this book wouldn't keep my attention. I was truly wrong about that.

    The characters are well developed and all of their stories kept me wanting more. The book focuses on a few people in the town of Coldwater, Michigan who are receiving phone calls from deceased family members, friends and co-workers (I almost said the calls are from loved ones, but that is not the case for all of them).

    The stories talk about the relationships between the caller and the call receiver. They talk about the reactions of local townspeople as well as people all over the world when the news gets out about the calls.

    There are believers and there are skeptics and both sides are out to prove the legitimacy/fraud of this miracle. One of the main characters, who is not getting any calls, is on a mission to prove this is a hoax.

    When the reader reaches the climax of the book and thinks they will get the answers, the story throws even more questions at you that you hadn't even considered in the first place.

    I love this book and I would highly recommend it. Albom kept me hooked from beginning to end. I read this book in 3 days - couldn't put it down. Happy reading!
  • (4/5)
    Mitch Albom is one of those authors who could write about any topic under the sun and make it drop-dead amazing. He captivated readers in the past with his original stories, stunning attention to personal detail, and an unembellished, but deeply poignant style, and in his newest novel, he once again works his rare magic, reclaiming his title as my most cherished inspirational and literary fiction writer.The First Phone Call from Heaven intimately follows the lives of the chosen children, parents, and spouses of Coldwater whose lives are forever altered when they receive phone calls from those they are mourning... their dead loved ones. Sparking extreme media interest and frenzied support, as well as protest from those who cannot let go of the controversy of divine voices coming through man-made technology, these phone calls become the world's biggest spectacle—except to Sully Harding, who is past skepticism, and now is just downright angry with the nonsense. The sudden "miracle" is giving his young son false hope, and it's making it impossible for a non-believer like him to come to terms with his wife's tragic death; through town resources and the cooperation of his community members, he is determined to expose the phone calls as an utter hoax.But in the end, we beg to ask: Does it really matter whether the phone calls are actually a miracle from up above, or if they're a worldly intervention? After all, they are the best thing that's happened to Coldwater, and better yet, they're giving lost souls on Earth a chance to reconnect with the lost souls in heaven, and accept the notion of death.Through the intertwined stories of various personal losses and varying levels of religiosity, Albom gives readers a glimpse of miraculous healing even when the source isn't necessarily a miracle, as well as emphasizes what it truly means to believe. The First Phone Call from Heaven contains one of Albom's characteristic fantasy worlds, so vividly illustrated in a precious literary tone and through a contemporary community.Regardless of whether your belief is placed in a higher power or just in yourself, I guarantee you will find this an affecting novel about coping, reminiscing, and living—because all these can happen, even if you lose someone you love. It isn't a religious novel if you don't make it out to be. Albom's message isn't about God or prayer or anything remotely affiliated; it's about the importance of healing and keeping faith in our lives.As Sully begins to accept the loss of his beautiful wife, and as he begins to crack down on the mystery of the heavenly communication, he discovers shattering secrets and an unsettling realization that, although having never received one, he is undeniably connected to these phone calls. Readers will root for Sully on his difficult path to letting go of his anger over what he considers his life's greatest injustice: forgiving those responsible, forgiving the God he's so weary of hearing about, and most of all, forgiving himself.Pros: Albom does not disappoint // Smooth, simple, but incredibly powerful style // Fast-paced; does not drag // Beautiful inspirational message about loss, love, and life // Well-fleshed characters // Contemporary novel with an almost allegorical, fantastical toneCons: Obviously not extremely realistic // Keeping track of all the townsmembers' names gets a little confusingVerdict: Mitch Albom's newest and most anticipated book reminds individuals of the omnipresence of heaven and the impossibility of any human soul ever being forgotten, even after death. With the same seamless, heartfelt writing we all fell in love with in his previous works, as well as the kind of fresh, enlightening plot that is unique to his stories, Albom's The First Phone Call in Heaven is a breathtakingly inspirational and deeply meaningful novel about living without fear—which is to say, having faith.Rating: 8 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): An engaging read that will be worth your while; highly recommended.Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC!).
  • (5/5)
    Imagine receiving a phone call from someone who was in your life and is now deceased. Imagine further that the caller is telling you they are in heaven. Mitch Albom's novel, The First Phone Call from Heaven, is the story of such phone calls and their impact on the recipients as well as the town they live in. Initially, those receiving the calls didn't know about the others who were being contacted. Eventually, as word spreads, outsiders descend upon the town looking for proof. Can this really be happening- are people actually calling from heaven? Sully Harding, recently released from prison, is convinced the calls are a hoax and will go to great lengths to uncover the truth. He, too, has lost someone and there is much at stake.From the first page, it is obvious that this is a special book. It is imaginative and exciting. The characters are well developed. Natural prose makes them believable. Deftly described, their fears, hopes, faith and vulnerabilities are easy to relate to. The story takes several turns and the end is surprising-to say the least. Mr. Albom is a master story teller. He has crafted an engrossing and memorable novel.I received this book for free through Goodreads and I give this review of my own free will.
  • (4/5)
    Enjoyable book that keeps you riveted. The book makes you ask yourself the question "What if I was called from the other side?" A sweet story with a little bit of suspense thrown in for good measure, Mitch Albom's book will leave you with a smile on your face.
  • (4/5)
    Actually, this book was more than I thought it would be. Yes, it pits those who believe in a place called Heaven with those who don't but it's actually a good mystery as well. When deceased people begin to call residents of a small town in northern Michigan it at first seems like a miracle. Some folks are very receptive to it while others consider it a nightmare. As with all newsworthy moments, people start to swarm into this quiet little town and news media is there to cover every minute of it. Either people are easily drawn to the story because they unquestionably believe it to be true or they are skeptical and ready to disprove it.Albom juxtaposed this story with Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone and it works quite well.A quick read and Albom has many quotable lines worth remembering no matter what your belief. Interesting book club discussions may ensue from this read.Edit More
  • (3/5)
    This isn't the first book I've read by this author but it might be my last. I found this story very hard to get into. I probably would never have chosen this book to read but my neighbor thought I'd enjoy it since she and her sister did. She was wrong.I wish I could give it more than three stars but I just can't do it. The book started off slow and it never picked up.
  • (5/5)
    I love the way with all of Albom's book when I pick them up I struggle to put it down till it is finished then like an old friend I still have to revisit it again. This book had me hooked sat on the side lines waiting listening almost taking part. My emotions heightened and working overtime wondering , "you know its feasible".No I am not giving much away because that is the beauty of his books I recommend them gladly the only author I recommend to all my friends because I know for some reason everyone can take something from his books.
  • (5/5)
    Wouldn't you love to get a phone call from a loved one from heaven? Mitch Albom creates a tale about some people in a small town that mysteriously begin getting these calls. Many questions are eventually aswered. How? Why? Why them? Can these calls be induced to happen? Why in this particular town? These and others will be answered through Mitch Albom's unique storytelling. It is a fun read that may even make you think a bit.
  • (3/5)
    I had seen this book on a lot of people's list and thought I would give it a try.

    I rather enjoyed this book, so much so that I eagerly gobbled it up and wanted to find out whether or not the phone calls are real or not.

    Now there's a certain amount of religious undertones here, which doesn't bother me that much but did get a little tedious after a while.

    I like how some historical moments and tidbits were incorporated into the story. Like the first phone call Alexander Graham Bell made and what he said. That was pretty neat.

    Regardless of you are a skeptic or not of life beyond what we know, the phone calls certainly were inspirational and stirred a lot of interest. Especially those who have lost a loved one and are constantly looking for signs from above. It's interesting how the entire story played out, it went from a few simple phone calls to a whirlwind of social media circus. I liked reading each characters stories and how the phone calls changed their lives through it all and afterwards.

    The climax was a little meh though. So like everything was orchestrated by the funeral director, who was actually the dad of the airport technician that caused Sully to crash and lose his wife, as a way to demonstrate his remorse for everything his son did... like ok... and the whole undercover agents surrounding the property not long after Sully leaves after a confrontation was like what the?! like couldn't the agents of acted sooner or like what's with the mysterious timing? a little too far fetched and bit of a let down

    Overall, it was an interesting and quick read.
  • (4/5)
    The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom
    383 pages

    ★★★ ½

    Description via Amazon: 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.

    I have never particularly seen myself as a religious or even spiritual person, yet I cannot help but to delve into a Mitch Albom book (author of other books such as Tuesdays with Morrie and Five People You Mean in Heaven), they just inspire and give hope. I could not wait to get his newest book, The First Phone Call From Heaven, and I gobbled up this 300 page book in just over 24 hours. Is it as good as some of his earlier books? No. I think Albom is great as his ability to say so much without saying so much, if that makes sense. He uses his ability of subtlety to let the reading infer the message and I’ve always appreciated that. This book is a bit more in your face, more action packed than any of his previous books. However, it’s still well written and as always, the ending brought a tear to my eye. I think it’s worth the read if you are Mitch Albom fan who has read his other stuff. If you are a first-time Mitch Albom reader, I’d start elsewhere.
  • (3/5)
    Summary:
    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.

    My take: 3 stars
    I hesitate to call this Christian fiction, because, strictly speaking, it is not; however, I think it mostly fits the bill.

    I disagree with the summary that it is an allegory of the power of belief. When the first phone call is received, it is met with elation by the recipient. What is the proof? The voice on the other end is unmistakable. How can it be a hoax? There is even a conversation, albeit it brief and a bit fragmented. But the voice. It has to be.

    As the phone calls continue, received by eight people from different backgrounds, walks of life, and faith situations, the blessing turns into something else.

    "Instead of feeling reconnected with her only son, she felt his loss as palpably as she did when the news of his death arrived. An unexpected phone call here or there? A clipped conversation? A phenomenon that might disappear as quickly as it came? The awful part would still not change. Robbie was never coming home." p136

    I think Albom is a good writer, and his books have always resonated with me. However, this one fell a bit flat. While I found the characters to be well-flushed, I found some of the situations a bit contrived, sophomoric, or just plain unrealistic. For example, the fact that Doreen and the police chief had been divorced 6 years, and she still felt emotions surrounding him so intensely.

    In the end, I was satisfied with the ending, but would recommend his other books before this one.
  • (4/5)
    The first book I read from Mitch Albom had been For One More Day, and since then, I have been a fan. The only reason why I took this long to finish it was because as it so happens, I had been a bit occupied. I had also been meaning to get this book when it launched, but unfortunately My purse was tight. So at the given opportunity (a book fair), I jumped in and immediately bought it.

    I think that anyone who reads this will no doubt think of a deceased that they'd have liked to receive a call from. It was very interesting, the way he put the two perspectives together (the believers & non-believers) and make them go well with the story without making one sound more 'worthy' than the other. I dunno. There's just a way that Mitch writes to make things work.

    I understand Sully's take on the fiasco, yet I sympathized and understood the 'chosen ones' position as well.

    As it is with Mitch's books, it either teaches you a lesson or leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy with renewed resolution.
    I really liked how this story closed, as it gave room for contemplation. Also, I thought that the last line of the book was a brilliant closure.