The Norman Transcript

N-town reviews

January 10, 2014

Book review: Mitch Albom’s newest novel warm, familiar

NORMAN — Book: The First Phone Call from Heaven (2013, HarperCollins Publishers)

Author: Mitch Albom

Why you should read: If there is one thing Mitch Albom knows how to do, it’s getting to the hearts of his readers. The author of many successful novels including “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” “Tuesdays with Morrie” and “The Time Keeper,” Albom has delivered another familiarly warm story.

Sitting at No. 2 on the NY Times Bestseller list for hardcover fiction, “The First Phone Call from Heaven” explores the depths of belief and faith people can have in an emotional narrative centered on a small town on Lake Michigan. The town begins to attract a lot of attention when its inhabitants start receiving phone calls from their loved ones in Heaven.

We are first introduced to Tess Rafferty, who receives a phone message from her mother, who has been dead four years, saying, “It’s Mom… I need to tell you something.” The same thing happens to other folks all over town, receiving calls from deceased loved ones. One woman, Katherine Yellin, even goes in front of her church to announce that she heard from her dead sister, which sparks other people to come forward and say they’ve experienced the same phenomenon.

Shortly after, Sully Harding comes into the picture. Having served time in prison after crashing a plane, he comes out as a bitter man. His wife, who had rushed to see what had happened during his accident, was involved in a fatal wreck of her own. The single father of a little boy, Sully no longer believes in miracles, especially not the heavenly phone calls.

While the successful author’s stamp on this book should ensure its inevitable greatness, the story falls a little flat. Albom’s use of too many characters makes the story lose its punch on more than one occasion with all the interchanges. Overall, the novel’s inspirational message makes for an interesting read and leads to a satisfying conclusion.

Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
N-town reviews
  • Book review: Kidd delivers thought-provoking novel on slavery

    by Amber Hodge Book: The Invention of Wings (2014, Viking) Author: Sue Monk Kidd Why you should read: Kidd might be known for her worldwide hit “The Secret Life of Bees,” which released in 2002 and spent more than two years on the NY Times ...

    April 11, 2014

  • Book review: Philomena a sad, worthwhile read

    by Amber Hodge Book: The Lost Child of Philomena Lee (2009, Macmillan) Author: Martin Sixsmith Why you should read: Originally published in 2009, “Philomena” tells the true story of Michael Hess, who was a lawyer, and later deputy chief ...

    April 11, 2014

  • Music review: Johnny Drummer brings spark, swagger

    Musician: Johnny Drummer Album name: Bad Attitude Why you should listen: It’s probably reason enough to spin this record that producer Michael Frank wrote a thousand word introduction for the liner notes. The man who founded Earwig Music ...

    April 11, 2014

  • Music review: Helen Kelter Skelter offers psychedelic gem

    Musician: Helen Kelter Skelter Album name: Self-titled Why you should listen: Helen Kelter Skelter is a Norman band comprised of Eli Wimmer, Cody Clifton, Nathan Harwell, Jay Jamison and Tim Gregory. Their band’s name is a tongue twisting ...

    April 11, 2014

  • Book review: Anna Quindlen creates poetic narrative in Still Life with Bread Crumbs

    Book: Still Life with Bread Crumbs (2014, Random House) Author: Anna Quindlen Why you should read: It’s hard to find authors who have the kind of talent that brings life to inanimate objects. Fortunately, Anna Quindlen is one such writer ...

    March 14, 2014

  • Book review: Under the Never Sky a clever sci-fi

    Book: Under the Never Sky (2012, HarperCollins) Author: Veronica Rossi Why you should read: “Under the Never Sky” is a clever young adult novel built around a distopian future akin to “The Hunger Games” or the “Divergent” series....

    March 14, 2014

  • Music review: Goodnight Moonshine offers fresh sound

    Musician: Molly Venter and Eben Pariser Album name: Goodnight Moonshine Why you should listen: It’s the rare 21st century professional musician who has just one project. Molly Venter and Eben Pariser are no exceptions. Venter played here ...

    March 14, 2014

  • Music review: Eddie Ate Dynamite is explosive, twisted listen

    Musician: Jason Vivone and the Billy Bats Album name: Eddie Ate Dynamite Why you should listen: All you have to do is glance at this album’s cover art to know it’s going to be a twisted listen. A stick of high explosive in a hot dog bun on ...

    March 14, 2014

  • Book review: Rainbow Rowell paints perfect love story

    Book: Eleanor & Park (2013, St. Martin’s Press) Author: Rainbow Rowell Why you should read: After 11 weeks of gracing the NY Times Best Seller list for young adult novels, “Eleanor & Park” currently rests at No. 8 on the charts. With its ...

    February 14, 2014

  • Book review: JJ Abrams creates literary masterpiece

    Book: S. (2013, Little, Brown & Company) Authors: J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst Why you should read: Created from the mind of J.J. Abrams, producer of hit films and television shows such as “Lost,” “Star Trek Into Darkness” and “Mission: ...

    February 14, 2014