The First Phone Call from Heaven: A Novel


"What if the end is not the end?"

From the beloved author of the number-one New York Times bestsellers Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven comes his most thrilling and magical novel yet—a page-turning mystery and a meditation on the power of human connection.

One morning in the small town of Coldwater, Michigan, the phones start ringing. The voices say they are calling from heaven. Is ...

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The First Phone Call from Heaven

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"What if the end is not the end?"

From the beloved author of the number-one New York Times bestsellers Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven comes his most thrilling and magical novel yet—a page-turning mystery and a meditation on the power of human connection.

One morning in the small town of Coldwater, Michigan, the phones start ringing. The voices say they are calling from heaven. Is it the greatest miracle ever? Or some cruel hoax? As news of these strange calls spreads, outsiders flock to Coldwater to be a part of it.

At the same time, a disgraced pilot named Sully Harding returns to Coldwater from prison to discover his hometown gripped by "miracle fever." Even his young son carries a toy phone, hoping to hear from his mother in heaven.

As the calls increase, and proof of an afterlife begins to surface, the town—and the world—transforms. Only Sully, convinced there is nothing beyond this sad life, digs into the phenomenon, determined to disprove it for his child and his own broken heart.

Moving seamlessly between the invention of the telephone in 1876 and a world obsessed with the next level of communication, Mitch Albom takes readers on a breathtaking ride of frenzied hope.

The First Phone Call from Heaven is Mitch Albom at his best—a virtuosic story of love, history, and belief.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

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.

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.”
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
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?"
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062294401
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/21/2014
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 73,049
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Mitch  Albom

Mitch Albom is a bestselling novelist, a screen-writer, a playwright, and an award-winning journalist. He is the author of six consecutive number-one New York Times bestsellers and has sold more than thirty-four million copies of his books in forty-two languages worldwide. Tuesdays with Morrie, which spent four years atop the New York Times list, is the bestselling memoir of all time.

Albom has founded seven charities, including the first-ever full-time medical clinic for homeless children in America. He also operates an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He lives with his wife, Janine, in suburban Detroit.


You might call Mitch Albom a jock-of-all-trades. Before becoming one of America's most beloved sport commentators and columnists, Albom was an amateur boxer, a nightclub singer and pianist, and a stand-up comedian. He is a nationally syndicated fixture of radio and print, and has been featured as an analyst on ESPN. He has covered college football and college basketball in two successful nonfiction books, and the best of his articles have been collected in a series of anthologies called Live Albom. However, what catapulted Albom into the literary limelight was the mega-selling 1997 memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie, his first book to sidestep sports altogether..

Tuesdays... is a moving account of Albom's reconnection with his old Brandeis professor and college mentor, Morrie Schwartz. After learning Schwartz had been stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease, Albom sought him out in Boston, and throughout a long, harrowing year, they spent every Tuesday together. As he faced his inevitable death, Schwartz shared a lifetime of memories, regrets, fears, and philosophical insights with his former student. A story that could easily have toppled into maudlin sentimentality, the memoir succeeded in large part because of Albom's skillful writing. Published in 30 languages in 34 countries, the book remains an international bestseller.

In 2003, Albom forayed into fiction with The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the emotionally resonant story of an old man who dies, convinced his life has had no meaning -- only to discover that nothing could be further from the truth. It, too, scored a huge success for the author – as did his followup novel, For One Day More.

Good To Know

The Oprah Winfrey-produced version of Tuesdays with Morrie, starring Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria, won 4 Emmy Awards and was the most-watched TV movie of 1999.

Before Albom was a household name, he was known on the comedy circuit as the warm-up act for Gabe "Welcome Back Kotter" Kaplan.

Albom is an enthusiastic philanthropist, having founded two charitable programs, the Dream Fund and A Time to Help.

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

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