Thursday, March 20, 2014

[Review] The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

Title: The First Phone Call from Heaven
Author: Mitch Albom
Publisher: Sphere
Published: June 2013
Pages: 312p
ISBN: 978-1-84744-226-0
Bought at Asia Books (525 Baht)

Does heaven really exist? Some people keep asking some question like that. Why they so curious about something like that? Exist or not, does it really matters? Maybe people desperately want to believe something, something beyond us.

If you believe it, you don’t need prove” – page 280

This book begins with so many stories about different people lived in Coldwater, Michigan. It is a small city, so everybody knows each other. There is a military-pilot named Sully Harding who hadn’t expected the assignment to fly an airplane, so he got an alcohol a night before. The rule is you shouldn’t have an alcohol 12 hours before your duty. At the time he was about to land, he received incorrect instruction from ground control resulting a collision. Too bad, he’s wife that rushed to see what happened to him has a car crash of her own, hit by the ground control officer that on the way to escape from his mistake. Sully’s wife got totally injured, Sully pled guilty and sentence to prison because his blood report contained an alcohol and there is no flight recording that can prove his innocent. He’s wife died when he was in prison. After 10 months imprisoned, Sully changed into heartbroken, skeptical, atheist, and hopeless man, he tortures himself everyday with the same sentence “he wasn’t there” when his wife passed away.

Another story about a woman, middle age, named Katherine Yellin who claimed got called from her sister, Diane, who died two years ago. Katherine told everybody about the phone call on sunday service at the Harvest of Hope Congregation, it shocked everyone in the church, some people believe her, and others got angry. But a man named Elias Rowe stood up and confirmed the story, Elias confessed that he also got a call from his former employee, Nick who died couple years ago.

The story spread among residents, then spread across the country. Amy Penn, a television reporter came to Coldwater as a first reporter and she got her news from Katherine herself. The fact about phone call from afterlife changed Coldwater. The small laid-back town turned into a crowded busy town, people comes from another city and state, they parked everywhere, people standing in the queue almost everywhere. Some people saw this situation as a business opportunity, but others don’t like it because they used to live in the peaceful place that doesn’t exist anymore. There are eight people in Coldwater that claimed got a phone call from heaven. They’ll have a same message that the end is not the end; there is a life after death, in the beautiful place that full of light (I thought light represent love). Week after week, the local Church getting crowded, people pray at Katherine Yellin’s front yard. People want to hear more about heaven, they expect that the eight people that got called would talk about that and help them to ask some question to the afterlife.

Sully Harding can’t help to hear something like phone call from heaven, especially when his 6 six year old boy, Jules, yearning for a phone so that his mother might call him. Jules believes in heaven and that bothered Sully even more. So he starts to investigate the phone call, he use every resource he could get, to make sure that heaven doesn’t exist, that someone is manipulating these call. But I thought on the other hand, he wants to prove it because he desperately wants to talk to his wife one more time, the chance that he missed. So, are these phone calls just a hoax? Or miracles?

Like another story from Albom, it‘s so simple, talked about our daily life, ordinary thing that sometimes we abandoned. “Mitch Albom sees the magical in the ordinary”, a comment from Cecilia Ahern about this book. It simply talked about eternal love, forgiveness, doubt, faith, and most important thing is about hope. Albom also touch the psychological side. Eight people got same called but they react differently. Some people happy to hear their loved one’s voices, but others dejected. One thing sure that all these people start to evaluate their own life and I as a reader also do mine.

While telling the story about people on Coldwater, Albom added backstory about Alexander Graham Bell and the invention of telephone related to the current day which is the story that happened in Coldwater. I always love the way Albom telling the story. He has a talent to touch people heart through his words. And he touches mine from these simple words,
What is false about hope?” – page 272

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