The First Phone Call from Heaven – Mitch Albom

What a fascinating concept … this story is of a few residents of a small, uninspiring and unsuspecting town, begin to receive regular brief phone calls from people who have died. They claim to be in heaven, reaching out to their loved ones.

As the story unfolds almost all the responses, from all the characters, seem to be misguided … from those who want to capitalise on it, to those who don’t believe it, to those who are so desperate to receive their own calls. As you would expect, the town goes crazy.

Interestingly hardly anyone seems to be saying “so this means that heaven is real, so I need to repent and believe”. No one seems to respond how you would hope you would respond if you were in that situation. Even the church pastors are confused and ill-equipped to deal with the situation, all of which make it actually quite a believable scenario!

Having researched and written about heaven in my novel, Beneath the Tamarisk Tree, I did find it fascinating. One concept that is introduced here really resonated with one of my own themes, that of how heaven is where we receive healing from a lifetime on earth and all that it has thrown at us.

The story trots along at a good pace, with the reader being pushed from side to side, from belief to doubt, back and forth until it reaches a crescendo of hysteria. It sensibly leaves the reader to decide what they believe … clever storytelling.

Ultimately this is a story about one man’s search for truth in the midst of chaos and trauma, and another man’s desperate measures to put things right.

It is a cleverly written observation exposing behaviours and beliefs, set at a fast pace, engaging and fun. And you just can’t help asking yourself … “how would I react if this happened to me?”

The First Phone Call from Heaven, by Mitch Albom, is available here.