The First Phone Call from Heaven

The First Phone Call from Heaven

4.1 247
by Mitch Albom
     
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

The first phone call from Heaven was, of course, a surprise; but this otherworldly communication was followed by scores of others, each of them bringing news from the hereafter to men and women of Coldwater, Michigan. When news of this miraculous phenomenon spread, thousands thronged to this little community, each person hoping to be contacted by a departed loved one. Like all its number one bestseller predecessors, this new fable by Mitch Albom (The Timekeeper; For One More Day) strikes the deepest chord possible in readers.

Publishers Weekly
★ 09/09/2013
Albom (The Five People You Meet in Heaven) has a nose for “thin places”: places where the boundary between secular and sacred is porous, and ultimate meaning is easier to encounter. In his new novel, Coldwater, Mich., is this thin place, a town where people who have lost loved ones begin receiving phone calls from the dead in heaven. Sully Harding’s wife died while he was in prison, and their young son, Jules, hopes his mom will call, even while Sully smells a hoax. Albom weaves a thread of satire into a narrative braided from the lives of smalltown residents; Coldwater becomes a media hotspot as well as battleground for religious and antireligious zealots, all awaiting the revelation they expect. A historical thread—popping into the narrative like a change-up in baseball—deals with Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone and how the instrument came to be the premier human connector. This brisk, page-turner of a story climaxes at Christmas. Another winner from Albom; this book just about shouts “Give me for a holiday gift.” Agent: David Black, David Black Agency. (Nov.)
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
Albom (The Time Keeper, 2012, etc.) goes divine again in a story about love, forgiveness and the hereafter. Sully Harding's a disgraced ex-military pilot. Sully hadn't expected the assignment to ferry a jet cross-country, and so he'd indulged in a drink the night before. Making a stopover to meet his wife, Sully received incorrect instructions from ground control, resulting in a midair collision. There were no serious injuries, but driving to the airport, Sully's wife was mortally injured in a car crash, hit by the controller attempting to flee his mistake. Flight recording missing and blood alcohol content registered, Sully pled guilty and was sentenced to prison. Depressed after his wife's death, Sully's now home in Coldwater, Mich., selling newspaper ads just as Coldwater's spotlighted in an astounding news story: Residents are receiving phone calls from heaven. Katherine hears from her beloved sister. Tess hears from her mother. Even the police chief hears from his son killed in Afghanistan. The messages are brief and reassuring: "The end is not the end." Angry and bitter, worried about his young son awaiting a call from his dead mother, Sully wants to prove the calls a hoax. The church hierarchy's befuddled by the apparent miracle, but wise old Pastor Warren's skeptical. Amy, ambitious small-time television reporter, is reluctant to join the media circus but grows jealous as Oprah-types bask in the hype's spotlight. Sully himself faces a momentous decision as the phone calls are broadcast worldwide in a television spectacular. Albom's story is simplistic theology about love's eternal nature, forgiveness and the afterlife. There's a hint of romance and some formulaic secondary characters, including the crusty old seen-everything local reporter and the odd, out-of-place funeral director. Framed by short anecdotes relating to Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone, Albom's story unfolds in reportorial-style sketches, right up to a double-twist conclusion. A sentimental meditation on "[w]hat is false about hope?"
Garth Stein
“A beautifully rendered tale of faith and redemption that makes us think, feel, and hope--and then doubt and then believe, as only Mitch Albom can make us do.”
Matthew Quick
“Beautiful and smart. Perhaps the most stirring and transcendent heaven story since Field of Dreams.”
Library Journal
★ 11/01/2013
A series of tragic circumstances land widower Sully Harding back in his hometown of Coldwater, MI, just months before the mysterious phone calls start occurring. The calls, from deceased family members or acquaintances, are made to a few select members of this small community. Some choose to keep the calls a secret while others decide to tell all. When a small news station picks up the story, it isn't long before it goes viral and the sleepy little town is overrun by extreme believers and vitriolic protesters, all demanding proof. Even Sully's young son, Jules, believes his mother will contact him from heaven. But Sully's skepticism prods him to investigate either to uncover a hoax or believe in a miracle. VERDICT Albom (The Five People You Meet in Heaven) artfully captures the emotional turbulence caused by the testing of faith. His story clips along at an increasingly frenetic pace, realistically displaying the ugliness wrought when combining the media circus, mass hysteria, and greed of commercialism. This moving tale of loss, recovery, and the power of love will be snatched up by Albom's many fans. [See Prepub Alert, 5/20/13.]—Joy Gunn, Paseo Verde Lib., Henderson, NV

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062294371
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/12/2013
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
259,481
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 7.30(h) x 1.50(d)

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Meet the Author

Mitch Albom is a bestselling author, screenwriter, playwright, and nationally syndicated columnist. The author of six consecutive number one New York Times bestsellers—including Tuesdays with Morrie, the bestselling memoir of all time—his books have collectively sold more than 35 million copies in forty-two languages. He has founded eight charities in Detroit and operates an orphanage in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. He lives with his wife, Janine, in Michigan.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Franklin, Michigan
Date of Birth:
May 23, 1958
Place of Birth:
Passaic, New Jersey
Education:
B.A., Brandeis University, 1979; M.J., Columbia University, 1981; M.B.A., Columbia University, 1982

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The First Phone Call from Heaven: A Novel 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 247 reviews.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
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. Drrrnnn! She ignored the ring and dug her nails into the plastic. Drrrnnn! She clawed her forefinger through the bumpy part on the side. Drrrnnn! Finally, she made a rip, then peeled off the wrapping and scrunched it in her palm. She knew the phone would go the answering machine if she didn't grab it before one more - Drrrnnn - "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. In the latest novel from best selling author Mitch Albom, he was more has created a longing in the heart for so many who wish for just one more phone call or a way to talk to those who have died. Only it isn't just Tess who is getting the phone calls, it is others in the small town of Coldwater, Michigan. Those once lost in their grief are finding comfort in the short simple phone calls conveying that everything is perfect and that those loved ones are calling from heaven and they want everyone to know about it. Amy Penn was hoping to finally get the one big break all reporters long for and when she gets the assignment to investigate the phone calls from dead people coming to those residents only in the town of Coldwater, Amy wonders if she is being sent on a wild goose chase because if she fails, the station doesn't have to worry about what the ratings will do. No one knows who she is anyway. But will Amy find more than she truly ever bargained for? Is this God's way of leading her down a much different path then she ever dreamed possible? You'll have to pick up this book to find out. If you've read Mitch Albom's other books, The Five People You Meet in Heaven or Tuesdays With Morrie, then you will definitely WANT this one. It's guaranteed to keep you wondering long after you finish the final page. In my opinion, this one hands down gets a 5 out of 5 stars. I did not receive any monetary compensation for a favorable review and the opinions expressed here are strictly my own. This was a self purchase and being a huge book lover, I had to read this one. What a great Christmas gift!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book! I was hooked in the beginning. The ending left me speechless and wanting to discuss it with someone. Can't say it is my favorite Albom book. Hard to top Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One again, Mitch Albom is able to capture the hearts of so many by telling a gripping story about the ability to hear and speak to our loved ones again. The power of belief and the unknown propel this stunning story far beyond the last page.
Literary_Marie More than 1 year ago
"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.'" ~ pg. 19 As children we are taught we might go to heaven. But this fiction book shows heaven might come to us. A few residents of Coldwater, Michigan, are receiving calls every Friday from dead people. Presumably dead people that have gone on to heaven. Most of the callers have been deceased for years. Some believe it is a miracle; others are not so convinced. The small town of Coldwater has been turned upside down with increased visitors, news media and traffic. Are the recipients of the calls from heaven "chosen" people? The idea seems ludicrous but the story itself drew me in. I was eager to keep reading and see if more characters received calls from heaven and to see how the story ended. Surely there must be an explanation and a damn good ending to the mystery, whether it was a miracle or a hoax. Mitch Albom's new novel is like a story you've never read before. There are tidbits about Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone that tie into the fictional story. Whatever your belief, readers will like The First Phone Call from Heaven. "The end is not the end." ~ pg. 86 The First Phone Call from Heaven released today. Add it to your wish lists or order today. It is worth it! Then ask yourself, would you mind getting a phone call from heaven? Literary Marie of Precision Reviews
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have waited for months...Finally Here....Mitch is a brillant writer...always feel the story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quite simply a beautiful book.
Jerry_Downey More than 1 year ago
Mitch Albom, one of today's most prolific authors, does it again. "The First Phone Call From Heaven" grabs you right from the start, and holds your interest throughout. Are the phone calls phoney -- or heaven-sent? Albom doesn't show his hand until he -- and you -- are ready. The story is uplifting and suspenseful, with just enough characters to keep it interesting without confusing the reader. A great read anytime, but particularly during the holidays. Kudos to Mitch Albom. Keep 'em coming!
darcb07 More than 1 year ago
"If we knew what comes next , we never would have worried" :) 
anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
Phones in a small Michigan town begin ringing and their loved ones on the other end are calling from heaven. My heart stops. I think of my mom. Can I recall the sound of her voice. Yes. Tears begin to fall. What wouldn't a person who lost a loved one do to hear their voice, to know, to get an assurance that they are ok, not only are they ok, but they are in heaven and they don't want you to lose faith, stay the course. Everything is ok. But not everyone gets a phone call from heaven. Sully Harding has just been released from prison. His wife is dead and he is left to try and make a new life for himself and his six year old son, Jules. As more people come forward admit they too are receiving phone calls from heaven, Sully makes it his mission to foil the mystery...as his little boy begins to carry around a toy telephone (my heart broke). Each call changes the lives of the people receiving them. For some it brings healing, to some it brings hope and to others it opens up painful wounds. The novel has multiple points of view and tidbits of Alexander Graham Bell are woven in. A very quick read. This was my first Mitch Albom book. I have heard nothing, but great things about his books. I was very excited to read it. I ended up with a bit of mixed feelings about the novel. I went in with an expectation that this would be a really inspirational story. I didn't find The First Phone Call from Heaven to be overall inspirational. I mean yes there was some, but like I said I had a high expectation. I found it to be more a mystery to disprove someone else's miracle. This made me sad. I wanted Sully to stop. I didn't want anyone to have to have their hearts broken, again. It would be like losing that person again, and losing face for believing they were contacting you. As I'm sitting here writing this review, I'm thinking back to the book. I'm realizing how we aren't given phone calls from heaven to make us believe...that is where faith comes in. If you are given absolute proof than there is no need for faith, is there? The novel isn't about the ones who believe, it's about the one who doesn't. There are no guarantees in life, but if you believe then the afterlife is a guarantee. If Sully proves it's a hoax, he doesn't disprove the existence of heaven--but maybe his journey will open his eyes to what is unseen. I went into this book wanting proof. I wanted a phone call, too. I wanted to believe my mom and dad are just a phone call away. I ended up sitting on this story long after the last page was read. I was reminded not to put my faith in this world. I'm recommending The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom--a perfect Christmas gift. 
pagese More than 1 year ago
I haven't read a book by Mitch Albom in quite some time. But, this book seemed to have all the same qualities of the previous books that I read and enjoyed. Sadly, I think this missed the mark a little for me. I really tried not to go into this book as a skeptic. Albom has a knack for making a believer out of you. I wanted to see how he could pull off phone calls from Heaven. But, it didn't take me long to not like how these phone calls were presented. This whole plot line is heavy in spoilers so lets just leave it as I was extremely disappointed how it all played out. However, I did love the characters. Sully is the perfect person to narrate this book. He needs something to believe in. His life has become the opposite of how he pictured it. And really, it's not because he made bad choices (well maybe just that one). It's really just the luck of the draw. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. And sometime really unimaginable things happen to people like Sully. I hope in the end he found some measure of hope in those around him. In the end, this wasn't exactly what I had hoped it would be. But, it really does have all the qualities that Mitch Albom is known for. I think plenty of people will connect with it more than I did.
Hipster_dufas1 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this read. The resolution surprised me. 
SpeedSD More than 1 year ago
ANOTHER HIT BY ALBOM! I love this author and the way he can weave a story. Whether he is telling a true story or writing a work of fiction, his way with words is wonderful. This is a thought-provoking read for the spiritual and not so spiritual. I believe Mr. Albom could make even the hard core doubters think about the light. This is a wonderful book filled with emotions of all kinds -- from happiness to anger, sorrow to laughter. If you are looking for a read to bring some belief back into your life, this book is it. Thanx again Mr. Albom for another fabulous read. Now I am off to purchase some tissue for the house as I have depleted the supply reading this story. -- SPeeD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being an advocate of all previous Mitch Albom's writings, I found this book lacking the true inspiration that has become his trademark. I was awaiting the connection of the story with a faithful or spiritual message as in all his other writings. That moment of true enlightenment was subdued and too short in appearance. The body of his writing did not transition or flow between the message and the plot as well as expected. The First Phone Call from Heaven lacked substance considering the content it could have drawn on. The thought of a loved one conversing from heaven was an excellent subject matter. Along the line of Mitch's other books I expected a perspective that may have included a polar opposition of science and religion, or the inclusion of a newly discovered dimensional connection. The spirit of hope and faith, in corresponding with a loved one in heaven carries with it a heavy burden. A story that seeks to find the answer to such an inquisitive longing should have built upon the science Alexander Graham Bell more. As the reader I did not understand fully the inclusion of Mr. Bell as related to the story. The small inclusions of Alexander's life seemed out of place. Perhaps this reader did not fully grasp the story as intended but it was not that difficult in past novels. My personal favorites remain, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and The Time Keeper!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you read the first four chapters, and, the last four chapters, you have read the book. The center is filler. I love Mitch's reviews in the paper, but not this book
JeffC70 More than 1 year ago
I have read each of the books Mitch Albom has written and this one is just as good as the previous books. I always feel like I am right in the middle of his story. I would recommend this book to everyone to read.
katydidnt More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed in this book. I guess I was expecting something more. The book is written very well. The story line was interesting, but I was getting confused with all the characters. I enjoyed Mitch Albom's other books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by Mitch Albom and I would rate it as just ok. The story line did keep me turning pages but I guess I was expecting something else, not a mystery of sorts. Not a book I would pick up and read again.
Lola_Ann More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed 'The First Phone Call from Heaven'. It was a quick read for me, but Mitch Albom's writing made me consider how I would react in several situations. I can't lie, I shed a few tears, but several friends have read without crying. There's some mystery involved and I can't resist a mystery! In the end, Mitch Albom left me smiling. Bottom Line: Read this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not the best Mitch Album.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is entertaining as an easy read - at times. I'm sure that anyone who has lost a loved one has longed to see that person for five more minutes and be able to ask if he or she is o.k.in the after-life. I was jolted out of enjoyment with this book by the fact that the released-from-prison pilot's name was Sully. What a coincidence: Sully, the name of the pilot who safely landed his USAirways commercial jet in the Hudson River.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard book to keep interested in. I do not recommend this book. Waste of my time and $.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book, would highly recommend to anyone looking for a good book to read. It really makes you think and believe.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so disappointing. I normally am a huge fan of Mitch Albom's books but not this time. It didn't hold my attention, seemed completely unbelievable and I thought was just awful. It was painful for me to even finish reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It eas so boring
kiriandketa More than 1 year ago
This book grabbed me from the minute I picked it up and started reading it.  The concept was intriguing.  Were people really receiving phone calls from departed loved ones?  I read this book in one day.  I've read all of Mitch Albom's books; I love his style of writing.  This book will not disappoint you and will keep you absorbed all day.