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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Mitch Albom - The First Phone call from Heaven

book review recorded for bookshow by Ro Bennett feb 2014
This is the official synopsis both :
'The gift of heaven on earth.
It will become the biggest story in the world . . .
When the residents of a small town on Lake Michigan start receiving phone calls from the afterlife, they all become the subject of widespread attention. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. This is a story about the power of belief -- and a page-turner that will touch your soul'.
I was disappointed with this book. I have read two of his other books; The Five People You meet in Heaven and Tuesday’s With Morrie and I enjoyed them, but wasn’t as keen on this one.
One Friday in the town of Coldwater, Tess Rafferty gets a phone call from her mum. Except her mum is dead…Then it is discovered that other residents of the town have had a similar experience, amongst them Katherine Yellin, a very devout Christian who is talking to her much-loved deceased sister. 
Consequently the local churches and their hierarchy get involved as does Amy Penn, an ambitious journalist who visualises this as an opportunity to progress her career. Then there's Sully who is grieving for his wife who died whilst he was serving time in prison for his part in a plane crash. Sully's son Jules desperately wants his mum to call him, but Sully is convinced that it's all a cruel hoax.

However the media circus arrives and pilgrims and protestors from far and wide are descending on Coldwater in their droves, many in the desperate hope of connecting  with their departed loved ones. This puts a colossal strain on the inhabitants and infra structure of the town and tensions rise as the story moves towards its dramatic conclusion. 

Interspersing these story lines is a fascinating  account of Alexander Graham Bell's development of the first telephone in 1876 and how this came into being, which involves the tender love story of his relationship with his deaf wife. 

On the whole the book dragged on a bit for me. I wasn’t riveted by many of the the story lines and found most of the characters a tad insipid, although I was interested in following  Sully’s story line and why he had been put in prison. I didn’t think it was good as his previous books.

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