My primary knowledge of Mitch Albom as come through his gig as a panelist on the ESPN series "The Sports Reporters," and I must say I've been a fan for years. When his book, Tuesdays with Morrie became a best-seller, I admit to being a bit surprised. What on earth, I asked myself, does this have to do with sports?
I also admit I didn't read it - nor have I read any of the other non-sports books he's written including The Five People You Meet in Heaven, another one that was wildly popular. But this time, I decided it's past time to let go of my hang-up on the sports aspect and give one of his books a try. And now, I'm an even bigger fan.
This one takes place in small-town Coldwater, Michigan, where nothing much of note ever happens until a handful of residents start getting phone calls from dead people they've known and (in most instances) loved. Of course, they're both skeptical and overwhelmed with joy, but their skepticism is put to rest when the callers use words and phrases that are familiar, making them believe they must be real. The calls also are most welcome because the callers make it clear there's a wonderful life somewhere in the hereafter; in fact, the reasons for the calls is to let people know they needn't worry about dying and to ask that they spread the word.
As you might expect, those who already believe quickly are turned into zealots, and those who don't step up their protests that the whole thing is some kind of hoax. Woven in between are backstories of the folks who are getting the calls (and one notable guy who isn't) as well as history lessons about Alexander Graham Bell's invention of the telephone.
At just 336 pages, this one easily can be read in a few hours - and it's so well written and the story so intriguing that I wanted to do just that. But because I didn't start it till late in the evening, exhaustion set in and I had to call it a night. The next morning, I almost resented the fact that a handful of family members would be spending most of the day with us - that's how much I wanted to get back to my reading. The minute we left and I hit the "on" button on the dishwasher, I grabbed my Kindle and told my husband not to interrupt me unless the house caught fire.
In short, this is a wonderful "feel good" story that centers on human behavior and is almost guaranteed to leave a smile on your face in the end no matter which side of the hereafter debate you're on. And as you might expect, I've put Albom's earlier books on my must-read list.