This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Kay Brooks
When Tess Rafferty answers her mobile phone, the last voice she expects to hear is that of her mother, who died four years ago. Soon, more residents of the small town of Coldwater come forward claiming to have spoken to people from beyond the grave. When the media spotlight is thrown on the chosen recipients, many are filled with a renewed sense of faith in Heaven. As with any miracle though, there are also doubters. Grieving father, Sully Harding, is determined to discover the truth for the sake of his heartbroken son, who is still struggling to deal with the sudden loss of his mother.
Having read The Five People You Meet in Heaven by the same author, I expected Albom to present a thought-provoking view on religion and the afterlife. Albom presents the reader with a variety of different characters – all with varying views on the possibility of the afterlife and the true definition of faith. There are the believers, the atheists and the opportunistic. Katherine Yellin, a devout Christian, receives a phone call from the sister who was a best friend to her in life. There is no doubt in her mind that Diane is phoning her from Heaven, with the intention of spreading the news that there is life after death. Jack Sellers and his ex-wife, Doreen, are both contacted by their soldier son who was killed in combat. Comforting at first, both accept the phone calls with gratefulness, but the true challenge is accepting that, however convincing the phone calls are, nothing will bring Robbie back.The novel is well written, dipping in and out of a variety of characters' lives, all the time exploring the question, should faith need proof? An interesting facet is the intertwining of Alexander Graham Bell’s life story, including his most famous invention, but also including his relationship with his wife and the struggle to retain the patent for the telephone. The awe and incredulity with which his seemingly impossible invention was received made the reactions to the phone calls from Heaven seem more poignant and realistic.
Having presented a medley of reactions to the phenomenon, each with their own rationale, prevents this from being strictly a ‘christian novel,’ but it would have been interesting to have some varieties of religious faiths represented in the novel. Perhaps, if the story had been set in a multicultural area of the world, it would be appealing to larger readership. This book contains elements of the mystery genre as Sully tries to discover the origin of the phone calls whilst maintaining his composure. His tragic past makes him a compelling character and the reader, whether a believer or not, is fully behind him in his quest for the truth.