Showing posts with label mitch albom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mitch albom. Show all posts

Friday, February 14, 2014

Literary Love: Short and Sweet

Hello, valentines!

All week long, I've been dying to jump in and contribute a post to the Literary Love event (being hosted by Estella's Revenge, Doing Dewey, Love at First Book, and From Isi).  Each day, I wake up and say, "This is the day!  I will write this post TODAY!"  And then...Tater Tot wakes up and wants to be fed, and Small Fry wakes up and starts demanding eggs WITH CHEESE, and we have to be at playgroup by 9:30, and the sink is full and I have to work out at some point? and did anyone go grocery shopping this week? and now suddenly it's 9pm and please just hand me a glass of wine so I can watch more Olympics.

So, in honor of me not having time to do anything ever, I thought I'd give you a quick list of my favorite short (ish) novels that pack a big punch in a small number of pages.

1. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Much like all of Albom's other work: beautiful, moving, thought-provoking, no matter what your religious beliefs.  One of my all time favorite books!

2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
An inspiring story that's sure to make you think about what your "personal legend" will be.  I wish I had gotten this as a high school graduation gift--it would have given me a lot to mull over!

3. Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
Kind of cheating, because this book is not short.  BUT, it's made up of short STORIES (novellas, really), so that works, right?  I love SK's short works and this collection is phenomenal.  (Also, not super horrific/gory, for those that shy away from his more...brutal stuff.)

4. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
One of my favorite classics!  Not only is the storyline engaging, but I like the allegorical message it conveys about human instincts and society.

5. Naked Pictures of Famous People by Jon Stewart
It's Jon Stewart.  Writing like Jon Stewart.  You need no further prompting.

What are your favorite short books?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review: The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom

Title:  The First Phone Call From Heaven
Author: Mitch Albom
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: November 12, 2013
Source: copy received for honest review through TLC Book Tours

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. An allegory about the power of belief--and a page-turner that will touch your soul--Albom's masterful storytelling has never been so moving and unexpected.

My Review:

If you read my Review Policy with any regularity (as I'm so sure that you do!), you know that it says I don't review novels in the "Christian" genre.  This is not because I'm anti-religion or anything like that, but more because the majority of Christian fiction I've encountered has been a bit too preachy for my taste.  However, the definite exception to this rule goes to Mitch Albom.  I find that his discussions of Christian beliefs are more thought-provoking than directive, and his previous books have all left me thinking about them loooong after I finished the final page.  So much so that The Five People You Meet In Heaven is one of my fave all-time novels.  So you can imagine how excited I got when I found out he had a new one coming out this year.

The First Phone Call From Heaven is not a fiction novel that's meant to be scrutinized for its fast-paced action or the accuracy of its detail.  The story begins when a few citizens of a small Michigan town begin receiving phone calls from their dead friends and relatives in heaven.  Their situation becomes increasingly public, and the reactions (both in town and across the country) are widely varied.  This is where the true interest in the novel was for me.  How would you react to such an event, given your own beliefs about Christianity and heaven?

For some characters in the novel, it strengthened their religious faith...but maybe in a selfish way (ie. wanting to be the only one who received a call and not wanting to share the recognition with others).  For others, it led to deep skepticism and a need to reveal the situation as a hoax.  Some took advantage of it as a financial opportunity...religious leaders struggled with whether it was a help or a hindrance to their congregations...some felt that it gave them the comfort and closure they never received after a loved ones' death...the media used it as a ratings booster...etc.

No one reaction is shown to be "right" or "wrong", but the reader is left to think about the reasoning behind each character's actions, and the spiritual struggles they must go through in order to justify their resulting actions.

Even though the novel is told from so many different perspectives, there is a central plot line around Sully, a recent widower who feels the need to disprove the validity of the calls.  His personal journey is the one that ties many of the other characters together, and his quest to get to the bottom of the calls drives the story along.  The ending to his portion of the tale does have a unique twist, and the spiritual message it conveys is fluid enough that each reader is going to be able to interpret it slightly differently.  THAT is what makes a great Christian-based novel for me.  Albom isn't telling you what to believe, but puts a lot of different perspectives on the table and leaves it up to you to place additional meaning behind them.

Mitch Albom has an uncanny ability to create novels whose central purpose is to make you think over some pretty heavy stuff, but at the same time, they have a plot line that's strong enough to give you a good story on its own.  The First Phone Call From Heaven is no exception.  Even if Christian fiction isn't usually your thing, I'd still recommend giving this one (or any of Albom's other books) a try.

As always, much thanks to Trish and TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour!
Check out the other blogs on this book tour HERE.  And connect with Mitch Albom on his websiteFacebook, and Twitter.

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