Lifestyles

Mitch Albom's The First Phone Call From Heaven touches your heart

Do yourself a favour and read The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom, author of the wildly popular Tuesdays With Morrie.

Whether you’re a believer or an atheist, this novel will definitely touch your heart. A combination of mystery, history and faith, Albom has produced a story that will engage people of all faiths.

The sleepy little town of Coldwater, Michigan, comes alive when first one, and then another and another of the townspeople claim to have spoken to a loved one from heaven.  These miracle calls have put Coldwater on the map, and thousands of believers flock to the town in the hope that the miracle will rub off on them. There are many who consider it the greatest miracle ever, then there are those who see it as nothing more than a clever hoax.

When Sully Harding, a former pilot who’s just spent 10 months in prison, returns to Coldwater and to his seven-year-old son, he finds the town captivated by the miracle of the phone calls from heaven. Sully, grieving over the loss of his young wife, isn’t buying it, and sets out to debunk the story. However, his young son holds out hope that his dead mother Giselle will call him one day.

Albom sets the tone for the story by writing: “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.”

The idea of religious faith is a concept foreign to some, and Albom makes the interesting distinction between faith and belief when he writes: “Faith, it is said, is better than belief, because belief is when someone else does the thinking.”

Albom intersperses bits of history about Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone into the story, which ties in nicely with the idea that when people call out in desperation or grief and want to make a connection, they are often answered. Not always in conventional ways, but still they are heard. Whether the connection is at the other end of a telephone line, or in the spiritual realm, people for generations have cried out in supplication and pain to whoever or whatever will listen. Albom writes: “We call out; we are answered. It has been that way from the beginning of belief, and it continues to this very moment, when, late at night, in a small town called Coldwater, a seven-year-old boy hears a noise, opens his eyes, lifts a blue toy to his ear, and smiles, proving heaven is always and forever around us, and no soul remembered is ever really gone.”

If you like books about miracles, faith and heaven, then check out The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen, The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder, Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult, and The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.

Shelley Civkin is communications officer with Richmond Public Library. For other popular reading suggestions see www.yourlibrary.ca/goodbooks/.

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