Friday, June 20, 2014

The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom is a bestselling author, screenwriter, playwright and nationally-syndicated columnist.  The author of five consecutive number one New York Times bestsellers, he has sold more than thirty-four million copies of his books in forty-two languages worldwide.  "Tuesdays with Morrie," which spent four years atop the New York Times list, is the bestselling memoir of all time.

You can't read the above paragraph and not have certain expectations about this book.  And I must say that Albom does not disappoint.  As one of the quotes from this book says, "There are two stories for every life; the one you live and the one others tell."

One morning in the small town of Coldwater, Michigan, the phones start ringing.  The voices say they are calling from heaven.  Each call is greeted differently--some with love, some with religious zeal, some with fear.  The question of whether these calls are a miracle or a hoax drives Sully Harding, a grieving single father with an inquisitive and hopeful son, to uncover the truth.

One of my favorite parts of the book is how he integrated the true story of Alexander Graham Bell into the narrative--and in such a seamless way that really played to the strength of the story.  Albom has always been great at characterization and tucking little bits of life wisdom amongst his dialogue.  Whether or not you believe in loved ones being able to communicate with those who have passed on, this book will make you think and give you an appreciation for not only the miracle of the telephone, but the miracles that love can induce.  A very inspirational book beautifully rendered and full of hope.

The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls is a writer and journalist.  She was born in Phoenix, Arizona.  She graduated with honors from Barnard College, the women's college affiliated with Columbia University.  She published a bestselling memoir, The Glass Castle, in 2005, which is being made into a film by Paramount.

She wrote this book because she wanted to talk about what happens with children when the parent abdicates responsibility.

It is a story of two girls, set in 1970 in a small town in California.  'Bean' Holladay is twelve, and her sister Liz is fifteen, when their artistic mother, Charlotte, takes off to find herself.  She leaves the girls enough money to last a month or two.  In her absence, they decide to take a bus to Virginia, where their uncle Tinsley lives in a rundown mansion that has been in Charlotte's family for generations.  Not wanting to be a burden on their uncle, and because money is tight, Bean and Liz start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, the foreman of the mill in town, a man who bullies everyone around him.  When something happens to Liz when she is in a car with Maddox, they find themselves in the midst of turmoil that they may not be able to survive.

This is a quite captivating read, with characters that just jump off the page and manage to grab your heart at the same time.  
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