THE FIRST PHONE CALL FROM HEAVEN

Mitch Albom

“What if the end is not the end?”

From the beloved author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven comes his most thrilling and magical novel yet—a page-turning mystery and a meditation on the power of human connection.

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.

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“What if the end is not the end?”

From the beloved author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven comes his most thrilling and magical novel yet—a page-turning mystery and a meditation on the power of human connection.

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.

The First Phone Call from Heaven is Mitch Albom at his best—a virtuosic story of love, history, and belief.

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  • Harper Paperbacks
  • Paperback
  • October 2014
  • 336 Pages
  • 9780062294401

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$15.99

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About Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom is a bestselling novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and award-winning journalist. He is the author of five number one New York Times bestsellers and has sold more than thirty-four million copies of his books in forty-two languages worldwide. Tuesdays with Morrie, which spent four years atop the New York Times list, is the bestselling memoir of all time.

Albom has founded seven charities, including the first-ever full-time medical clinic for homeless children in America. He also operates an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He lives with his wife, Janine, in suburban Detroit.

Praise

Beautiful and smart. Perhaps the most stirring and transcendent heaven story since Field of Dreams.” —Matthew Quick, New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook and The Good Luck of Right Now

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, New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Racing in the Rain

Beautiful and smart. Perhaps the most stirring and transcendent heaven story since Field of Dreams.” —Matthew Quick, New York Times bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook and The Good Luck of Right Now

Discussion Questions

Are you surprised by the various reactions from the people who receive the phone calls from heaven? How do you think you would react if you were to receive such a call?

How do these phone calls from heaven change the small midwestern town of Coldwater? Do you think it would be different if the same thing happened in a major city?

How do the town’s different religious leaders handle the news of the calls? What would you do if you were a spiritual guide like Pastor Warren, and one of your parish members broke such news to you?

One of the most serious concerns of the religious leaders was the idea that, “if people truly believed they were talking with heaven, how soon before they expected to hear from the Lord?” What are the implications of this question? Do you think this is a legitimate concern?

If you could hear from someone you have lost, would you want to? If so, who would you most want to hear from?

Throughout the novel, Mitch Albom interweaves the story of Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone. Why do you think he includes this? How is it connected to the main story and how does it illuminate the novel’s message?

Is Sully a good man? Describe him. What emotions motivate him when we first meet him? Is he the same person at the end of the novel? Why is he skeptical from the very beginning? Why drives him to find the truth? Did he do the right thing trying to find answers? Are the answers he finds those he was truly looking for?

What advice would you give Sully to help him protect his son, yet help him understand death in the cycle of life?

The role of media and technology plays a big part in spreading the news of the phone calls. Is our instant connectedness ultimately a good thing? Can it have a detrimental effect? What about Amy, the journalist who broke the original story? How does she feel about her role? How does her outlook change as the novel progresses? What factors influence her viewpoint?

Towns like Coldwater face major social and economic problems today, thanks to global competition, economic contraction, and a host of other issues. Do these problems make it more likely that people would cling to a miracle like a phone call from heaven? Might the reaction have been different in better times?

What propelled Horace to do the things he did? Were his motives pure? Sully accuses Horace of giving people false hope. Horace asks him, “What is false about hope?” Is there such a thing as false hope? Do you sympathize with Horace’s actions?

One of the effects of the phone calls is to drive people back to organized religion and their individual houses of worship. Why? What role does faith and God play in the community both before the phone calls and after? What about individual characters’ lives? Choose a few and use examples from the book to support your discussion.

How does belief enhance our lives, and how can it be destructive? Pastor Warren advices Elias, “If you believe it, you don’t need proof.” Do you agree with this? Should proof

What do you think will happen to the characters and this town? What has the impact of the event had on all their lives? Was the event ultimately positive or negative? Did you have a favorite character? If so, what drew you to this person?

What did you take away from reading The First Phone Call from Heaven?