The First Phone Call from Heaven
Mitch Albom (Adult Inspirational)
It was a rather ordinary day in the small, quiet town of Coldwater, Michigan. A day when a phone call would forever change the town—and soon the world—forever. The last time a phone call had such an impact was on March 10, 1876 when Alexander Graham Bell made the world’s first phone call to his assistant, Thomas Watson, and infamously uttered, “Mr. Watson—come here—I want to see you.” The phone call received by Tess Rafferty was just as improbable and consequential because this call came from Heaven. As more people came forward to share their own calls, one man remained skeptical and determined to prove this wonderful miracle was nothing more than a cruel and heartless hoax.
I fell in love with Mitch Albom after reading Tuesdays with Morrie and he has again presented me with another beautiful bouquet in the form of The First Phone Call from Heaven. He gives us several characters to follow as each receives a phone call from the afterlife, but he keeps us focused on three central individuals: Sully Harding, widowed father and newly released from prison who refuses to buy in to the religious narrative; Katherine Yellin, real estate broker who receives the second call but is the first to announce it publicly; and Police Chief Jack Sellers, divorced and father to a son lost in combat who must maintain law and order while trying to grapple with his own truth. Woven through all of these stories are historical facts and tidbits about Alexander Graham Bell, which I really enjoyed learning: stories about his mother and wife who were both hearing impaired, his close brush with obscurity, and the actual creator behind the standard telephone greeting “Hello” (hint: it wasn’t Bell who suggested “Ahoy!”). All of these references could have seemed forced and out of place, but Albom connects the past to the present as effortlessly as we are able to connect with one another today.
Albom’s faith is clearly the heart of this book as heavenly callers reassure their living recipients that they are well, happy, and that Heaven is indeed real. Sadly and realistically, we witness a beautiful event spiraling out of control as protestors seek a platform and news outlets realize the potential profit that faith and hope hold. It was Winston Churchill, working to form the United Nations after World War II, who said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” I’m sure it was a media mogul who might have been tempted to tack on “…or a miracle either.”
This is a wonderful story of faith challenged, hope questioned, and lives altered as the impossible becomes possible and the unknown is made clear. And whether you’re a believer, non-believer, or agnostic, one thing we can agree on—that remains as true today as it did in 1876—is that a single voice spoken through wires has the ability to change life forever.
* Book cover image attributed to: www.abebooks.com
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