Something extraordinary happens in The First Phone Call from Heaven, the new book by Mitch Albom, published in 2013. The people of Coldwater, Michigan, begin to get phone calls from deceased loved ones. Coldwater is just another ordinary small town, until the phone calls begin. Phone calls from heaven.
- Tess Rafferty's deceased mother, Ruth, calls and leaves a message on the answering machine for her daughter.
- Police chief Jack Sellers gets a call from his deceased son, Robbie, who tells him not to worry.
- Katherine Yellin excitedly tells Pastor Warren that she's received a call from Diane, her deceased sister.
This is just the beginning of the calls from heaven. Initially the calls are met with shock and disbelief, but this changes into joy and anticipation and excitement as time goes on, for most of the recipients. They relish hearing the voices of their loved ones, and they relish their words. The deceased tell loved ones not to worry, that they are at peace, that heaven is magnificent. The dead are miraculously able to communicate, by phone, with their loved ones.
Katherine decides to share the amazing news and tells the congregation at the Harvest of Hope congregation about her phone calls from her sister, which began three weeks earlier. She tells them that Diane's soul is alive in heaven, and that she's been calling regularly. The town is suddenly cast into the spotlight, and the whole character of Coldwater quickly changes as a result of people's reactions and invasive media attention which focuses on the phone calls from heaven.
But some people, including Sully Harding, who's suffering because his wife, Giselle, died tragically, thinks the calls are a hoax, while Sully's young son, Jules, wishes that his mom would call from heaven. Many suspend their skepticism and want to believe that the calls are real, because the calls reassure them and indicate that a beautiful heaven awaits. The book brought to mind The Miracle on 34th Street, a movie I've loved since I was a child. To believe or not to believe, that is the question. As a reader, I wanted to believe.
I'm a big fan of Mitch Albom's work, so I was thrilled to be among the first to read this book (an uncopyedited manuscript I'm not to quote from). I've read Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day, and Have a Little Faith. Books written by Mitch Albom always manage to engage my emotions. His books get to me, because he writes about belief and faith and life and death, in an eloquent, intelligent, and loving manner. This time, I felt as if I were rediscovering the author and his tremendous talents as a storyteller. While reading the book, I imagined how'd I feel if my mother called me from heaven. She'd sound as cheerful as she always did, and although she wouldn't stay on the phone for too long (she never did), she'd convey her care and concern for me.
The First Phone Call from Heaven is an incredibly inspiring story about what happens to people when they hear from their deceased loved ones. Will this astonishing communication with the deceased incite the residents of this small town, and people elsewhere, to live more joyfully and lovingly? I think you know the answer to this question.
Special thanks to Trish from TLC for sending me the first edition of this novel. For more reviews of the book, please visit the other stops on TLC's blog tour for The First Phone Call from Heaven.
Thanks for reading! Your comments are welcomed.