Closure is often necessary, but seldom found. Still, there exist many of us who want to know that those we have come to cherish who have passed on are in a better place. In Mitch Albom’s latest novel, “The First Phone Call from Heaven,” readers learn that closure is less about our control over the situation, and more about our ability to believe the unbelievable – a chance to say goodbye.
However, there are two rules. One, you must have faith, and two, when the phone rings, you must answer it. After all, “[t]he news of life is carried via telephone. A baby’s birth, a couple engaged, a tragic accident on a late-night highway – most milestones of the human journey, good or bad, are foreshadowed by the sound of ringing.”
When the phone does ring, it is not just one call made, but many. Soon, the small town of Coldwater, Mich., is flooded by mass speculation of miracles. As they begin to circulate, the town becomes two groups divided, separating the believers from the skeptics. However, it is one skeptic in particular who stands out among them all – Sullivan “Sully” Harding – a former pilot given a second chance at life, who now finds his town forever changed.
After a string of bad decisions that landed him with several criminal counts and hard time, Sully finds himself a recent parolee, returning to the only home he has ever known. A place that, up until recently, was as unchanged as a postcard greeting. All it took was one call to transform the town forever. With an ear to the phone and a quick salutation, there is a perplexing voice on the other side, the far side – a greeting from heaven.
While in prison, readers find that Sully’s wife passed away, leaving their young son, Jules, without much to call a home. In an attempt to glue his family back together, now as a pair, Sully cannot help but feel cynical about these calls. That does not stop Jules from hoping that he receives a call from his recently deceased mother. Sully is having none of it, but Jules continues to believe, ultimately becoming the physical embodiment of faith. As the novel continues to unfold, Albom surprises at every turn of the page well into its remarkable conclusion.
Albom, who is known for his highly acclaimed works “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” is no stranger to themes of spirituality and faith. Now, he not only continues those themes, but also fills readers with optimism, making this novel a perfect read for the upcoming holiday season.
‘The First Phone Call from Heaven’ by Mitch Albom Rating: W W W W V