Fans of Mitch Albom's books will not be disappointed. They are always easy to read, always emotional tug of wars, always a bit spiritual in the requirement of a certain amount of faith to believe in things larger than life, always contain uplifting, inspiring messages, and this one is no exception. From the get-go, the story is a positive influence on the reader. It offers hope of things to come, removes the aura of despair that hangs over those grieving a loss by giving them a lifeline, no matter how fragile, no matter how steeped in fantasy, and it offers a measure of optimism for the future. His stories offer alternatives to our humdrum lives, offer reasons to go on, unafraid.
In the town of Coldwater, Michigan, something strange had happened. Several people were the recipients of odd phone calls. When they said hello, the person on the other end should not have been there because they were deceased! Each of the dead callers imparted an inspiring message, they were happy, they were safe, they said stop worrying, don’t cry, they were in heaven!
One person, who suddenly received these miraculous calls from over the divide, between life and death, decided to go public in her church. During the service, she interrupted the pastor and blurted out her miraculous experience. An investigative reporter was sent to the small town of Coldwater, to find out the truth. Eventually, many networks became interested in the story as it spread worldwide.
Several people who got the calls remained silent, questioning their own sanity or questioning the caller's reasons for tormenting them, or considering it a prankster's cruel joke, a cruel crank call. On the other hand, many people were inspired, they became more faithful, returned to their places of worship, were more hopeful about a hereafter, now that they believed in heaven as the reward. People were reconnecting spiritually, returning to the fold, some after a lapse of years.
The town grew with gawkers, protestors as well as supporters and reporters. There were those, like the mayor, who wanted to use the furor for the advantage of business in town, and there were some who wanted to use it for their own personal gain or advancement. Some of the residents of Coldwater were even beginning to resent the attention given to the ones who got the calls. Some wanted to know how they could get those special phones that connected to heaven. They camped out on the driveway of the woman who went public and tried to buy the exact phone she had so they would get calls too. It became a feeding frenzy. The townspeople and the outsiders who flooded the town, all wanted to be able to connect with loved ones who had died. Religious leaders also vied for position. They wanted to record and acknowledge whose congregant was contacted first. Many religious denominations were involved. Between the naysayers and the yeasayer’s, the atmosphere became charged and hostile, at times. The simple truth of the message, about heaven being there for all, was in danger of getting lost with the almost universal,frantic need to speak to their deceased loved ones, too.
The author used the invention of the telephone as a backdrop. It made this miraculous event possible. Edison speculated that there might be a machine someday which would communicate with the dead, and it seemed to be coming true. Did it matter whether or not this was real or a hoax, in the end, when the reaction was so positive for the believers? Was it really important to discover the truth? You must read it to find out.