Book Review: The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

I love Mitch Albom’s books! So imagine my dismay when I missed his visit to the Philippines for the book signing of The First Phone Call from Heaven. Fortunately, God sent me a fairy godmother in the form of my friend from high school, Jeannie. She endured the long queue and extended hours so I could have my own signed copy of the book!!! Thanks again, Maylabs!!! =)

I just read The Timekeeper a few months ago. It was good although I felt as if it was Albom’s “weakest” work in terms of impact to the readers, or at least for me. So I was really hoping that Albom could redeem himself with The First Phone Call from Heaven.

The First Phone Call from Heaven is a story about a small town in Michigan where a few people started receiving what they claim to be are phone calls from a deceased person. This phenomenon transforms a small town into a worldwide interest. And just like any other miracles, there are the believers and the doubters. While reading, I was actually torn between believing and doubting. I would not tell you whether it is a hoax or not. That’s for you to find out. =)

Mitch Albom’s signatures are all over the pages of this book – from the short chapters to the vantages of the people involved, from his usual style of non-linear narration to his addition of the history of the telephone’s invention. And just like in his previous works wherein his stories revolve around death and faith, Albom once again succeeded in turning into words a topic which seems to be an unusual plot for a book – the afterlife.

I love how Albom found a way to inject discussing the flaws of human nature – how some people can take advantage of someone’s vulnerabilities, how some religious people judge those who don’t go to church, how someone selfishly wants to be tagged as the sole person who received the call, and even how a religious leader tried to prove how important it was for his follower to be recognized as the first one to get the call from heaven. Albom did all of these to expose how a single act can translate into various definitions from different people depending on how they view faith and life in general.

What I found surprising in his latest novel is how Albom managed to weave mystery which would definitely put every reader into deep thought. While I was in the middle of the book, I couldn’t help but ask myself whether I was really reading a work of Mitch Albom. As I flipped into the last page of the book, I realized that Albom wasn’t trying to prove or disprove the idea of heaven. He didn’t impose a single idea on death, heaven and the afterlife. Because in reality, Mitch Albom gave his readers the liberty to believe what they want to believe. I told you he has the power to put a reader into deep thought! =)

“Fear is how you lose your life… a little bit at a time…
What we give to fear, we take away from... faith.” 

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