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
smoke stains that speckled the walls. But the upstairs was dark with burn marks. A bedroom door was charred. The stairs were blocked off by two pieces of wood, crossed in a box frame. “Did you build that?” Samantha asked. “No. This guy did.” “What guy?” “A guy from the police department.” Samantha flashed Tess a look. They had been friends for years, and had jointly opened the day care center. They ate together, covered each other’s shifts, shared every delight and every distress. A guy? A
can’t be everywhere. We just ask folks to respect privacy and to hold their prayers at decent hours, you know? None of the midnight stuff. (Archival footage.) ALAN: From clairvoyants to Ouija boards, people have long claimed to converse with the dead. Researchers into electronic voice phenomena believe Coldwater is not the first time voices have been heard from the other side. (Face of Leonard Koplet, paranormal expert.) LEONARD: We’ve seen a history of tape recordings that capture a dead
this purpose, but we’re glad it has been “chosen.” We’re honored and humbled. And we’ve made the model widely available. (Image of scientist at his desk.) ALAN: As you might expect, critics have been quick to dismiss the Coldwater claims. Daniel Fromman is with Responsible Scientists International in Washington, D.C. (Close-up of scientist, talking to Alan.) FROMMAN: Phone service is a man-made activity. The satellites are man-made. The routing devices are man-made. The contact these people
voices passing on one brief remark, then going silent? The end is not the end? She tried to maintain the gravitas of the moment, believing this tape would be seen by generations to come. “So, let’s review what we’ve witnessed here—” “WE DIDN’T HEAR ANYTHING!” The voice bellowed from the stands. The host tried to locate it. She put a hand to her forehead, shielding her eyes from the bright lights. “WE DIDN’T HEAR ANYTHING! HOW DO WE KNOW?” People turned, craning their necks. A camera operator
ghostlike, too-thin Horace, did he find the strength to push on, slogging into and out of snowdrifts until he came around the north side, where he saw a metal rail about ten feet high. And beneath it, a sliding access door. “So what are you saying?” the host asked now, standing on the edge of the stage. “That all these people are making it up?” “For all we know, yes,” Elwood said, speaking into a microphone that had been handed to him. His challenge had disquieted the crowd. They had come to