Sunday, April 13, 2014

The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

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 looks
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.

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