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I have to confess so that you know when you're evaluating this review and deciding how much weight to give it, I'm a fan of Mitch Albom's earlier work. His writing, that is. I had my doubts when I saw that he was narrating The First Phone Call from Heaven. But those doubts quickly evaporated. He's a great reader and enhanced the listen. So, kudos there.
The other question that came quickly into my mind is what happens when a sympathetic writer (Albom) portrays an unsympathetic character (Sully) behaving unsympathetically? The answer, it turned out, was subtle, but unmistakable suspense. I fell for Sully and was really intrigued to find out where the phone calls were coming from. Heaven or hoax? The telling was skillful enough that several times I wasn't sure which answer I was hoping would turn out to be true and found myself changing sides.
Since I'm writing this review to encourage you to listen to the book (well worth the credit, though a departure from Mitch Albom's earlier books, in content though the Albom pathos lingers...) I won't spoil the ending. I can say that it kept me engaged right through the end and, in the end, I was satisfied. I won't be surprised if I revisit this book in my library again.
40 of 42 people found this review helpful
I loved every character in this book. The lead character, Sully, is super well developed, you get a great sense of him as you learn about his history. The other characters in this story are what really make it great. Amy the young reporter, all the characters in the funeral home, the son, all the people getting phone calls, and I especially loved the librarian. Albom writes about people really well. I wish I could meet some of these people, I would for sure want to be friends with Amy and the librarian.
In this book, Albom adds a fun, mysterious, story that brings all these super flawed characters together in a very believable and sweet way and makes you really care what happens to them. The story flowed really well, and there were some "whoa, I didn't see that coming" moments that made it a fun ride.
I was pleasantly surprised by the narration. If you are a "narrator-geek" like I am, he reminds me a little of the narrator Fisher Stevens. Albom does a nice job and it adds a personal touch to have him reading his own story.
Why not five stars? While the characters were perfect, the story didn't drive forward as well as it could have. Some of the wrap-ups in the end seemed a tiny bit contrived to me. If I could give it 4 1/2 stars I would. It's a light, fun, great read (listen) that makes you feel good about, well, everything.
39 of 42 people found this review helpful