The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom

(image credit: snapped by DTLCT)

I have to say that this was one of my least favorite books of his. That was saying it lightly because it was filled with disappointment from the start. Not just because it seemed typical and too unbelievable, but I always came into his book full of hope and often left with just that. His books were always reassuring and a place for me to fall back on because they never forced one to believe. This one went against all of that and implied that it was okay to be manipulated. Then the whole thing with only believing will gain you the access to Heaven. Or the so-called concept of Heaven. I’m sooooo sorry if I stepped on a lot of feet, but I felt the true victim of the story stayed that way, which was Sully. If it wasn’t for the old man who tried to play God from the start, Sully wouldn’t end up in that mess. Then at the end when he had the accident and ended up becoming a believer, it was also that manipulative old man’s fault since if it wasn’t for the web of lies he created, the place wouldn’t end up in such chaos, so many people, nowhere to go any way you turned, causing so much traffic congestion thus Sully ended up in another mess. The whole guilt trip thing didn’t help either, considering how Sully didn’t want to affect his kid. So yes, sorry once again for taking it out of the worse, but from all the lot that participated in the madness, aside from Sully, I only liked Tess and Jack. I felt they were real in the way they reacted. Although I had no problem with some of the other characters, such as Elias Rowe, I felt he also got railed into the whole guilt trip hence having to take on the burden. Because seriously? People got fired every single day, then it was this guy’s fault that he had to take on such deeds? Well, he did promise Pastor Warren so he couldn’t back down. Talking about Pastor Warren, he was probably my favorite character in here (and he didn’t participate in the whole madness willingly). Why? He was the only one keeping his faith right from the beginning but wasn’t blind to it. He stayed real and kept it consistent throughout, not wanting to take advantage of getting some fame or wanting any type of attention from it. What surprised Sully at one point was that Pastor Warren actually agreed with him, and Pastor Warren even stating that there was some sort of unnatural feeling to all of that. Yes, considering how it was manipulated. I think Doreen’s reaction captured the moment perfectly during the part where she finally had enough and ended up disconnecting her phone, just wanting peace. She felt glad at first and happy even to hear her son’s voice again, but she soon realized it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t like he was coming back to her. It wasn’t like she could hold him in her arms again.

The other thing that made me want to roll my eyes even more was the whole madness with Katherine Yellin. I understood and sympathized with her and how her sister had died–as I did with the majority of the ones who got the calls in here. What I didn’t like wasn’t her wanting to prove that Heaven existed and her sister called her, but it was the fact that she was upset when she found out Tess was actually the first one to receive the call. Wow, really? Considering how she was a believer, I thought she would be more kind and accepting, and wouldn’t be so egotistical to think that she was the chosen one. Then there was Father Carroll–who was more than happy when he learned the first call from Heaven was actually from a member of his church. The so-called people of the church didn’t care for Tess or her mother at all, especially what her mother had gone through in the past YET now wanting to claim credit that their church had the first calling? Really? I totally understand why Tess finally came out with it, because her mother would want her to–and she felt she owe it to her mother. However, did it matter where it occurred or who got the call first? Did it matter that much? That was why I liked Pastor Warren the most, and how he reacted to the whole situation. The exchange between him and Elias Rowe was probably the best lines from the book–with Elias asking, “Does this prove what we believe?” and Pastor Warren responded, “If you believe it, you don’t need proof.” And then Pastor Warren died alone that night. The man had served the community and honored God for so long yet his ending was that? Yes, I’m seriously petty for thinking he minded because his purpose was only to spread the words, not bask in fame. But I felt that was just too sad and tragic. So his mourning wasn’t accepted by me because it felt like they threw it in the last minute, after having chased after all of the other illusions.

What was that with the old man justifying his actions by stating that each and every one of the so-called “chosen ones” all wanted to hear from their loved ones again? Seriously? He was a coward to not step out and prevent Sully from being imprisoned in the first place. (Even if he already destroyed the evidence and couldn’t make others believe him YET at least step out. Staying silent like that and causing a man to be wrongly accused and losing his freedom. Sully was already in it for the alcohol level thing. He didn’t need another major event crashing down on him too.) He was the one who caused all of this and then went and died alone, not brave enough to face Sully. Instead, he uttered some vague words to Sully when Sully showed up to confront him. Then there was the whole letter. Seriously? That was one of the reasons why I didn’t care for it. Not even an ounce of sympathy on my side. I don’t care if I missed the point either. I don’t like manipulations.

The last point I want to make had to do with Tess and Jack. I liked it that they ended up together and had a new start. However, I didn’t like how it was implied that because of this so-called miracle that they found someone to replace the ones whom they lost. Seriously? Everyone’s IRREPLACEABLE, you can’t replace someone regardless of the reason. I liked that they found each, that was it. It was like saying it was all right that all of someone’s family members died, maybe another family will come along to replace that one. REALLY? Yes, I couldn’t let that one go either. Not saying they should always live in the past. Eventually, everyone should move on, because there are many things in life to live for. But it doesn’t mean anyone or anything could replace someone important in one’s life.

To me, faith isn’t forced. It’s supposed to be a choice, something peaceful that should bring hope to you, not a reason to fight over. So no, I don’t agree with all the protesters causing trouble either, but I just don’t agree with the whole shoving things down people’s throats either.

After all that was said in this post (and probably just a bunch of “blah blah blah” to others), I still think Mitch Albom is an excellent writer. It was just that the theme was a major miss for me. And opinions are different, obviously, so you might have a different perspective regarding it than me. Be your own judge and find out for yourselves.

Books Recommendations

Okay, so I’m back with another random list. But I don’t think it’s WAY over, considering how I claimed to be a reader, right? So here goes my list, LOL!

Mitch Albom

Louisa May Alcott

  • Little Women

Donna Andrews

  • The Turing Hopper series

Jane Austen

  • Pride & Prejudice

Carrie Bebris

  • Pride and Prescience

Dan Brown

  • Angels & Demons

Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason

  • The Rule of Four

Elizabeth Chandler

  • Dark Secrets #1 – Legacy of Lies
  • Dark Secrets #2 – Don’t Tell
  • Dark Secrets #3 – No Time To Die
  • Dark Secrets #4 – The Deep End of Fear
  • Dark Secrets #5 – The Back Door of Midnight

Charles Dickens

  • A Tale of Two Cities

Alexandre Dumas

  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • The Three Musketeers

E. M. Goldman

  • The Night Room – I don’t know how many times I’ve read this book. But love it! Sci-fi with a mix of mystery, not to mention high school obnoxiousness. It’s a riot if you think about it with some people’s interactions. Some parts are tragic, but overall, an enjoyable, witty story.

John Grisham

  • The Rainmaker

Margaret Peterson Haddix

  • Because of Anya
  • Claim To Fame
  • Dexter the Tough
  • Double Identity
  • Escape From Memory
  • Game Changer
  • Takeoffs and Landings
  • The Always War
  • The House on the Gulf
  • The Shadow Children series
  • Turnabout
  • Uprising

Sébastien Japrisot

  • A Very Long Engagement
  • Trap for Cinderella

Stephen King

  • On Writing
  • Secret Window
  • The Green Mile

Barbara Kingsolver

  • The Bean Trees
  • Pigs in Heaven

John Knowles

  • A Separate Peace

Lurlene McDaniel

  • My Secret Boyfriend
  • One Wish Foundation series
  • The Time Capsule

Rodman Philbrick

  • Freak the Mighty
  • Max the Mighty

Erich Maria Remarque

  • All Quiet on the Western Front

Rick Riordan

  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians
  • The Heroes of the Olympus

Nicholas Sparks

  • A Bend in the Road
  • A Walk To Remember
  • Message in a Bottle
  • The Guardian
  • Three Weeks with My Brother

J. R. R. Tolkien

  • The Hobbit
  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy

*This post will be updated from time to time.

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

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One of the reasons why Mitch Albom is still one of my favorite authors is because he never fails to amaze. I’m serious here (without trying to throw this out there to suck up to him). I really liked the style of this book and the concept of time presented. Even if he had used a figure that was often discussed in the past, but he managed to create his own version of “Father Time” so vividly and convincingly. Going back to the style a bit, I liked how the story flipped back and forth to the major characters of the story until the end. It showed their perception and/or perspectives of things, not just telling readers what happened and how it was supposed to be. But I shouldn’t be too surprised because all of Mitch Albom’s past works had focused on capturing the feelings of each character so that we were able to relate to what was going on throughout–regardless if it were real recounts of what happened in his life or the fictional characters’.

Father Time was known as Dor in this book; and as the book’s flap had described, he was imprisoned in a dark cave because he had invented ways to measure time. He was forced to live through all the agonizing moments since mankind measured every moment of their passing lives. Living in tortures for over thousands of years, he was finally released and was told he had to go complete a mission before his journey would end–whatever that had meant.

At times, I was frustrated to see what was unfolding, especially what happened to the girl. However, I must admit those feelings were not too off with what the character was going through. It was a phase and it was easy to relate to (as of high school environment and whatnot). Then there was also the suspense killing me with what was going to happen after Dor was released and was given the ability to slow time down. But the ending result was quite a phenomenon with the process and how the theme of cherishing was brought forth once again. Sometimes, what you were looking for was just right there. And fighting to seek for other alternatives or attention elsewhere was just another foolish move.

What I found even more interesting was how the concept of preserving the body to wait for a possible cure in the distant future called cryonics. YES, I practically live under a rock regarding that method hence not looking up for further information until now. Though it was another way out, was not encouraged toward in this book because the theme of this book was to cherish those around you and live in the “now.” However, the author had stressed in the after notes that he wasn’t against the idea, just that the direction of the book was different.

What got me a bit annoyed (yes, I had those moments aside from what I said earlier) was by the concept of being punished for curiosity. YES, curiosity does kill the cat as the saying goes. Yet I felt that Dor was just an intelligent being. If he had to be punished for that, it seemed to discourage intellectual minds or creative thinking. Sorry, I knew I missed the point. But I felt a tad uneasy regarding those situations. Yet, it was an enjoyable read all in all about human relations and learning to cherish those important people in your life.

The interesting thing about the whole experience was several days after I finished the book, I was on the bus going somewhere and spotted a store having these words in front “A Gift of Time”, which of course was a clock shop. I suspected it had antique clocks of all sorts from the view. It got me thinking about the book. Strange or what?

Have A Little Faith by Mitch Albom

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Having enjoyed his previous works, including the other non-fiction book he did earlier, Tuesdays With Morrie, I had to pick this one up as well as did not regret it–though there were bits of hesitations at the beginning because of the theme. It was not a disappointment at all and it was not just because of the wonderful words written in there, but the lessons that he had learned himself through the journey.

I don’t want to spoil it for those who have not read it so this will be a short entry but if you like to read inspirational books, this book is for you–and it’s true too so there’s some hope for this world after all. Just continue to have some faith!

If you want to help in the effort mentioned in the book, please go here: