Reviewed in India 🇮🇳 on 16 April 2019
The first book I ever read by Mitch Albom was ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’. Although I had mixed review about that one, I still thought of giving a shot to this one – ‘The First Phone Call from Heaven’. If you were able to talk to a deceased one over a phone call, how would you feel? How would it transform your life and of those surrounding you? This is what the book talks about. The book basically tells a story of a small town near Lake Michigan, where citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. The calls can’t be dismissed as fake, as the callers’ voices are the same as the deceased one. Also, the details they mention in the calls are too personal for anyone to fake. If reading this sentence, excited you, you should definitely pick up the book. At least it excited me, that’s why I read the book because I thought it would be intriguing.
The book has a lot of characters. In fact, I felt the characters were too many, and there were multiple viewpoints provided, which kind of gets overwhelming at times. Some views don’t seem that important in the bigger picture of things. All the characters are from diverse backgrounds. The best character out of the lot was definitely ‘Sully’, and his story is the most interesting of all. There’s also a story about Alexander Graham Bell, intermingled with the original story. The story touches upon his invention of the telephone.
The book provides wonderful insights into how people respond to quirky things, things that are out of the ordinary. It also showcases the role of media, in sensationalizing various events. When I picked this book, the expectation was that it would be more of an inspirational and thought-provoking book. The book has its instances where one can reflect upon, but it definitely is more like a mystery/thriller type of book. The whole aura created by the phone calls is one of mystery.
Mitch’s books are mostly inspirational, about life and lessons learned, about belief in God. Just like in real life, where some people believe in the concept of an afterlife and even reincarnation, there are others that dismiss such concepts right away. The same thing happens in the town as well, when people start receiving phone calls from heaven. There are some who completely believe that their loved ones are actually calling from the afterlife. While there are others, like Sully Harding, who dismiss the whole thing as a hoax and are determined to find the truth. As the ‘chosen ones’ received phone calls from heaven, more and more people start coming to the town, as the news spreads like wildfire. There are media persons all over, police dealing with so many people, grocery stores running out of the stock. The particular phone used by the ‘chosen ones’ – even that goes out of stock because people believe that they can get calls only through that particular phone.
Whatever happens throughout the story, at the end of it, we must ask ourselves, if we really wish to believe the story or not. I know, on a more realistic level, such things can be passed off as complete rubbish. But for a second, if everyone really did believe in this whole theory of heaven, maybe, just maybe, the world can be a better place. Maybe we’ll start cherishing what we have right now. Life is full of surprises, and we are really lucky to wake up every day. Although, you have to dig deeper within the story, to figure out these subtle lessons provided in the book. The words and thoughts presented in the book, are far beyond the story itself.
Things that didn’t work for me – there were just too many characters. I think it would have been nicer if characters were lesser, but better developed throughout the book. Also, the stories keep jumping here and there, due to different points of view provided.
Favorite Quotes from the Book –
- “There are two stories for every life; the one you live & the one others tell”
- “You have to start over. That's what they say. But life is not a board game, and losing a loved one is never really "starting over." More like "continuing without.”
- “Desire sets our compass, but real life steers our course.”
- “Sometimes, love brings you together even as life keeps you apart.”
- “sometimes what you miss the most is the way a loved one made you feel about yourself.”
- “No soul remembered is ever really gone.”
- “Faith, it is said, is better than belief, because belief is when someone else does the thinking.”
- “That’s the thing when people leave us too suddenly, isn’t it? We always have so many questions.”
- “You don't miss things. You miss people.”
- “So often, we push away the voices closest to us. But once they're gone, we reach for them.”
- “Sully: I never said good-bye. Giselle: Such a needless word when you love somebody”
Overall Rating - 4/5