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123 of 132 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Breathtakingly inspirational and deeply meaningful novel about living without fear—which is to say, having faith
Mitch Albom is one of those authors who could write about any topic under the sun and make it drop-dead amazing. He captivated readers in the past with his original stories, stunning attention to personal detail, and an unembellished, but deeply poignant style, and in his newest novel, he once again works his rare magic, reclaiming his title as my most cherished...
Published 9 months ago by Karielle @ Books à la Mode

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62 of 72 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious phone calls, sentimental story
What if you picked up the phone and you heard the voice of a loved one who had passed away? When a few people in Coldwater, Michigan started getting phone calls from their dead family members, there were plenty of skeptics, but the ones who got the calls had no doubt that they were hearing their loved ones' voices, and when word got out, the whole world wanted to hear...
Published 10 months ago by Paul A. Mastin


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123 of 132 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Breathtakingly inspirational and deeply meaningful novel about living without fear—which is to say, having faith, December 20, 2013
This review is from: The First Phone Call from Heaven: A Novel (Hardcover)
Mitch Albom is one of those authors who could write about any topic under the sun and make it drop-dead amazing. He captivated readers in the past with his original stories, stunning attention to personal detail, and an unembellished, but deeply poignant style, and in his newest novel, he once again works his rare magic, reclaiming his title as my most cherished inspirational and literary fiction writer.

The First Phone Call from Heaven intimately follows the lives of the chosen children, parents, and spouses of Coldwater whose lives are forever altered when they receive phone calls from those they are mourning... their dead loved ones. Sparking extreme media interest and frenzied support, as well as protest from those who cannot let go of the controversy of divine voices coming through man-made technology, these phone calls become the world's biggest spectacle—except to Sully Harding, who is past skepticism, and now is just downright angry with the nonsense. The sudden "miracle" is giving his young son false hope, and it's making it impossible for a non-believer like him to come to terms with his wife's tragic death; through town resources and the cooperation of his community members, he is determined to expose the phone calls as an utter hoax.

But in the end, we beg to ask: Does it really matter whether the phone calls are actually a miracle from up above, or if they're a worldly intervention? After all, they are the best thing that's happened to Coldwater, and better yet, they're giving lost souls on Earth a chance to reconnect with the lost souls in heaven, and accept the notion of death.

Through the intertwined stories of various personal losses and varying levels of religiosity, Albom gives readers a glimpse of miraculous healing even when the source isn't necessarily a miracle, as well as emphasizes what it truly means to believe. The First Phone Call from Heaven contains one of Albom's characteristic fantasy worlds, so vividly illustrated in a precious literary tone and through a contemporary community.

Regardless of whether your belief is placed in a higher power or just in yourself, I guarantee you will find this an affecting novel about coping, reminiscing, and living—because all these can happen, even if you lose someone you love. It isn't a religious novel if you don't make it out to be. Albom's message isn't about God or prayer or anything remotely affiliated; it's about the importance of healing and keeping faith in our lives.

As Sully begins to accept the loss of his beautiful wife, and as he begins to crack down on the mystery of the heavenly communication, he discovers shattering secrets and an unsettling realization that, although having never received one, he is undeniably connected to these phone calls. Readers will root for Sully on his difficult path to letting go of his anger over what he considers his life's greatest injustice: forgiving those responsible, forgiving the God he's so weary of hearing about, and most of all, forgiving himself.

Pros: Albom does not disappoint // Smooth, simple, but incredibly powerful style // Fast-paced; does not drag // Beautiful inspirational message about loss, love, and life // Well-fleshed characters // Contemporary novel with an almost allegorical, fantastical tone

Cons: Obviously not extremely realistic // Keeping track of all the townsmembers' names gets a little confusing

Verdict: Mitch Albom's newest and most anticipated book reminds individuals of the omnipresence of heaven and the impossibility of any human soul ever being forgotten, even after death. With the same seamless, heartfelt writing we all fell in love with in his previous works, as well as the kind of fresh, enlightening plot that is unique to his stories, Albom's The First Phone Call in Heaven is a breathtakingly inspirational and deeply meaningful novel about living without fear—which is to say, having faith.

Rating: 8 out of 10 hearts (4 stars): An engaging read that will be worth your while; highly recommended.

Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher via tour publicist in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Harper Collins and TLC!).
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98 of 109 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A true spiritually uplifting story, August 28, 2013
By 
Neal Reynolds (Indianapolis, Indiana) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The First Phone Call from Heaven: A Novel (Hardcover)
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I haven't read anything else by Mitch Albom, but this book was definitely a einner in my book. Each character receiving a phone call is sympathetically portrayed, and each person's reaction sounds very authentic. I especially like the way Sully is slowly brought out and developed as an important character to especially watch. The bits about Alexander Graham Bell provide an informative background.

I expected to be let down by the ending, but instead found the conclusion quite masterful. My only criticism is that parts of the book seem a bit padded with repetition and serve to drag the story out a bit. I wish writers today didn't equate length with quality. There's no harm in a good story being short as long as we are given the whole story and a reasonable exposition of the main character's values and emotions.
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62 of 72 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious phone calls, sentimental story, November 13, 2013
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This review is from: The First Phone Call from Heaven: A Novel (Hardcover)
What if you picked up the phone and you heard the voice of a loved one who had passed away? When a few people in Coldwater, Michigan started getting phone calls from their dead family members, there were plenty of skeptics, but the ones who got the calls had no doubt that they were hearing their loved ones' voices, and when word got out, the whole world wanted to hear more.

Mitch Albom is best know for his powerful non-fiction, especially Tuesdays with Morrie. In The First Phone Call from Heaven, he has some fun imagining the impact a phone call from heaven might have. As word spread, pilgrims overran Coldwater, hoping for their own line to heaven. While few got their call, and some complained about the traffic and inconvenience, "there was also talk about heaven. And faith. And God. There were more prayers said than in years past. More requests for forgiveness. The volunteers for soup kitchens far exceeded the need."

Albom plays the calls along, hinting through the doubts of the main character that they may not be genuine, but leaving the reader little reason to think that they aren't for real. He balances the mystery with the reality of lives changed. The hardened reporter for the local paper reflects on whether the calls are good for Coldwater: "Let's see. People are behaving better, eh? We haven't even had a shoplifting incident since all this started. . . . [E]very seat in church is full. People praying like never before. So what do you think. . . ? Is it good?" Yet his cynicism causes him to doubt.

With his rich characterizations of both the individual players and of small-town life, Albom tells the kind of story he's known for, full of wisdom, a strong dose of sentimentality, and a warm feeling of satisfaction with the end. The theology of the book leans a bit toward universalism, although he's not explicit about that. Ironically, theology isn't really the point of the book. It's more like how our lives and choices affect others, what we hope for, and how faith can inform the choices we make.

The message isn't particularly powerful, the lessons aren't particularly deep, and the writing isn't particularly compelling or artful. But Albom tells a nice story, sure to be enjoyed by many.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!
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53 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking With Unlimited Minutes...., August 25, 2013
This review is from: The First Phone Call from Heaven: A Novel (Hardcover)
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Mitch Albom delivers another testament of faith in "The First Phone Call From Heaven." 15 years ago we didn't conceptualize technology to be integrated into spirituality but here it is. The town Clearwater (which reminds me of a clothing catalogue) has residents who are getting cell phone calls from the deceased - calls that are filled with hope, challenges and love.
Albom chooses some of the most angst characters as call recipients, as predicted to make his story move.

Albom does an awesome job on demonstrating how the media impresses our lives. I enjoyed how the media was pulled into what started off as a quack story and immediately spiraled into a mass movement. As a geek Albom incorporates history of the invention of the first telephone into this story and how that was also one of faith and love. I also enjoy how the religious representations in this story cannot and for reasons will not let go and let God. If we are made in God's likeness, I'm sure he would pick up a call phone...

My favorite part of the story is one where one of the call recipients removes all phone receivers from her home - she wants her dead son to stay dead. The balance of pros and cons in this story is wonderfully needed.

Another spiritual provoking work from Albom that ties in with today's technology. Once again Albom demonstrates that this is hell, where we go is so much better; filled with hope and love. I'm waiting to get my "Wish you were here post card" from a deceased loved one!;) Albom makes us question that 'UNKNOWN' in our lives is really known.

My only static - pun intended. The story could have been about 30 pages less.
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite book for 2013, November 5, 2013
By 
Melinda Lancaster "dontfaint" (Spring Hill, TN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The First Phone Call from Heaven: A Novel (Hardcover)
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I read and review a lot of books from various genres every year. So far Mr. Albom's book is my favorite book for 2013. I would say that the "take away" will vary from reader to reader. But I can't imagine anyone not getting something out of this book.

It is not only fascinating, it is fantastic.

I didn't really see it as an allegory although I suppose it is in the broadest sense. To me it is more of a fictional story that makes the reader think and feel. And perhaps even question some things.

Well written, as is all of Mitch Albom's work, The First Phone Call From Heaven grabbed me about half way into the first chapter and would not let go. I felt compelled to continue reading to find out more about the main characters in the story.

I really enjoyed that the storyline was not predictable. So many times when I read fictional work I can see what is coming next. Not so with this book. There were unexpected twists and turns that kept things moving and my inquiring mind wanting to know what was going to happen next. So much so that I got up this morning and plowed through the rest of the book to find out how it ended.

I don't want to say much about the story itself. Others have done so in their reviews. What I will suggest is that you buy this book and read it. At the very least you'll find a well crafted story. At the most, you might see life differently and appreciate those you love far and near even more.
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40 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Proof of heaven?, September 3, 2013
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This review is from: The First Phone Call from Heaven: A Novel (Hardcover)
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When I first saw the title to Mitch Albom's new novel, I immediately thought of his previous book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which I enjoyed, and I wondered if this book might be another fable about the afterlife. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is a different type of novel, more of a mystery, in which the central character, Sully, sets out to determine if the phone calls several people in his small town are receiving, allegedly from those who have passed away, are genuinely from heaven or are the result of a hoax. In doing so he ends up having to confront his past and the aftermath of the untimely death of his wife.

I like the author's handling of the effects, emotional and spiritual, that these phone calls have on those who receive them and the community; I was definitely drawn in. As with the previous novel, he gives you a lot to think about. How does the apparent proof of the existence of heaven impact what you do and how you act and treat others? What do you do with the time you have left before you make the journey to the "other side"? What would you say or ask someone you have lost if you had the chance?

This would be a good choice for book club discussions.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A chore to read, February 18, 2014
This review is from: The First Phone Call from Heaven: A Novel (Hardcover)
I found this book to be a chore to read. I had to make myself finish the last 50 pages, and I skimmed several of those pages. This was just a very boring book to read in terms of characters and plot development (or lack thereof). You could read the first 20 pages and the last 20 pages and really not miss any of the story. Don't waste your time.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, December 8, 2013
By 
Theresa M. Warden (Swartz Creek, MI, US) - See all my reviews
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My husband recently passed away. This book reminds me that I will be with him again. Hope is comfort. Wonderful story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review, March 10, 2014
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I just didn't think this quite lived up to the expectations I had for it. It was just fair for me.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, February 19, 2014
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It is hard to believe that this is the author of fine storytelling books such as Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. This is not well written and one has to suspend disbelief to follow the storyline. If you must read it, save you money - go to your local library. At least you can return that copy.
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The First Phone Call from Heaven: A Novel
The First Phone Call from Heaven: A Novel by Mitch Albom (Hardcover - November 12, 2013)
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