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by Mitch Albom

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-06-229437-1
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Albom (The Time Keeper, 2012, etc.) goes divine again in a story about love, forgiveness and the hereafter.

Sully Harding’s a disgraced ex-military pilot. Sully hadn’t expected the assignment to ferry a jet cross-country, and so he’d indulged in a drink the night before. Making a stopover to meet his wife, Sully received incorrect instructions from ground control, resulting in a midair collision. There were no serious injuries, but driving to the airport, Sully’s wife was mortally injured in a car crash, hit by the controller attempting to flee his mistake. Flight recording missing and blood alcohol content registered, Sully pled guilty and was sentenced to prison. Depressed after his wife’s death, Sully’s now home in Coldwater, Mich., selling newspaper ads just as Coldwater’s spotlighted in an astounding news story: Residents are receiving phone calls from heaven. Katherine hears from her beloved sister. Tess hears from her mother. Even the police chief hears from his son killed in Afghanistan. The messages are brief and reassuring: "The end is not the end." Angry and bitter, worried about his young son awaiting a call from his dead mother, Sully wants to prove the calls a hoax. The church hierarchy’s befuddled by the apparent miracle, but wise old Pastor Warren’s skeptical. Amy, ambitious small-time television reporter, is reluctant to join the media circus but grows jealous as Oprah-types bask in the hype’s spotlight. Sully himself faces a momentous decision as the phone calls are broadcast worldwide in a television spectacular. Albom’s story is simplistic theology about love’s eternal nature, forgiveness and the afterlife. There’s a hint of romance and some formulaic secondary characters, including the crusty old seen-everything local reporter and the odd, out-of-place funeral director. Framed by short anecdotes relating to Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone, Albom’s story unfolds in reportorial-style sketches, right up to a double-twist conclusion.

A sentimental meditation on "[w]hat is false about hope?"