The First Phone Call from Heaven: A Novel
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“A beautifully rendered tale of faith and redemption that makes us think, feel, and hope—and then doubt and then believe, as only Mitch Albom can make us do.”—Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
One morning in the small town of Coldwater, Michigan, the phones start ringing. The voices say they are calling from heaven. Is it the greatest miracle ever? Or some cruel hoax? As news of these strange calls spreads, outsiders flock to Coldwater to be a part of it.
At the same time, a disgraced pilot named Sully Harding returns to Coldwater from prison to discover his hometown gripped by “miracle fever.” Even his young son carries a toy phone, hoping to hear from his mother in heaven.
As the calls increase, and proof of an afterlife begins to surface, the town—and the world—transforms. Only Sully, convinced there is nothing beyond this sad life, digs into the phenomenon, determined to disprove it for his child and his own broken heart.
Moving seamlessly between the invention of the telephone in 1876 and a world obsessed with the next level of communication, Mitch Albom takes readers on a breathtaking ride of frenzied hope.
“Beautiful and smart. Perhaps the most stirring and transcendent heaven story since Field of Dreams.” —Matthew Quick, author of The Good Luck of Right Now
was the day the world received its first phone call from heaven. What happened next depends on how much you believe. The Second Week A cool, misting rain fell, which was not unusual for September in Coldwater, a small town geographically north of certain parts of Canada and just a few miles from Lake Michigan. Despite the chilly weather, Sullivan Harding was walking. He could have borrowed his father’s car, but after ten months of confinement, he preferred the open air. Wearing a ski cap
The vibrations of his voice could be better absorbed that way—a principle that would one day be integral to his development of the telephone. When Giselle was in the hospital, Sully spoke to her like that, his lips close to her forehead, his lowered voice vibrating with every memory he could think of. Remember our first apartment? Remember the yellow sink? Remember Italy? Remember pistachio ice cream? Remember when Jules was born? He would go on like this, sometimes for an hour, hoping the
thought about that. “So they don’t have a leg to stand on?” “Who knows? You can bring anything to court.” “Wait,” Amy said. “These protests—” “What is the family saying?” Anton asked. “Nothing yet,” Phil answered. “Be careful there.” “The protests?” Amy repeated. “I don’t know,” Phil said, turning back to her. “I think tomorrow. Depends on what blog you read.” “You’re just reporting the news,” Anton said. “Remember that.” “That’s right.” Phil nodded. “You’re right.” He turned again to
anyone else. When the crash first happened, people were sympathetic: the other plane had, thankfully, landed safely, Sully had endured a traumatic ejection, Giselle was clearly an innocent victim. Poor couple. But when the toxicology report leaked out, public perception flipped on Sully, like a wrestler slipping his hold and pinning him down. A newspaper was first to get a copy; it ran the headline WAS PILOT UNDER INFLUENCE DURING CRASH? The TV news stations followed up, changing the question to
up a list of churches in Coldwater and made a few calls. The first two had voice mail. But on his third try, Harvest of Hope Baptist Church, a secretary answered, and—ask a man of God—Phil requested to speak to the clergyman in charge. “How did you find out?” the surprised pastor had said. A phone today can find you anywhere. On a train, in a car, ringing from your pants pocket. Cities, towns, villages, even Bedouin tents are looped into the circuit, and the most remote of the world’s citizens