Sports personality Mitch Albom’s latest book, The First Phone Call From Heaven, is a great holiday novel. He will touch the reader with this spiritual storyline. Anyone who has lost a loved one will understand how there is always the longing for a way to talk to those who have died, to have a link with the afterlife. In this case the link is provided by the telephone as Albom weaves the plot with the history of the phone.
The plot has a small town on Lake Michigan gaining notoriety when its citizens receive phone calls from their loved ones who have died. The mystery is whether this is the great miracle or a hoax. Sully Harding has to face adversity in his personal life, with the loss of his wife, and in his professional life, when he is found guilty of crashing his Air Force jet; even though it was not his fault. He is the skeptic that tries to prove that Heaven is not reaching out and that someone is playing with people’s emotions.
The main characters are well developed, likable, and sympathetic. Katherine receives phone calls from her dead sister, Diane; Tess from her mother Ruth; Jack and Dorene from their son Robbie who died in combat. The reader journeys with these people as Albom skillfully shows how they react differently when they hear their loved ones’ voices. They range in emotion from gratefulness, believing that they are no longer alone to the desire to have the dead stay dead as explained in the book quote, “It wasn’t making me happy. It just made me miss him more.”
His first spiritual book was Tuesdays with Morrie, which chronicles the time spent with his former college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who was dying from ALS. “The conversations with Morrie changed my whole life as I became exposed to a lot of suffering. Now, six years later I chose to write another book on spirituality where I hope the readers would see the miracle, ‘that the end is not necessarily the end.’ What the book shows is that people have souls so when they die they are not just gone.”
One of the characters was Robbie, a soldier killed in Iraq. A powerful quote from the book has Robbie telling his dad, “There’s no bad days here… It’s awesome…if we knew what comes next, we never would have worried.” Albom hopes that military families will take a little comfort in these scenes since “they must always face the specter of death; it’s always around. Maybe a loved one can believe somewhere the person lost is alive.”
It will not be lost on the reader that Albom puts emphasis on the preciousness of the human voice and the desire to hear their loved ones speak. He explained to blackfive.net, “I thought it would be a great contrast to how people use the phone today, avoiding all human contact, particularly with texts.”
The First Phone Call From Heaven is a very powerful read for those that want to believe that “the end is not the end.” Anyone who lost someone will take comfort in the faith that there is a possibility that someday they will be able to continue hearing from a loved one.