On Friday, June 21, HarperCollins’s Library Love Fest engaged a small circle of editors, publicists, librarians, and a two-man camera crew in a large conference room at the publisher’s New York office for a light breakfast and interview with best-selling author Mitch Albom on his forthcoming novel, The First Phone Call from Heaven: The New Novel (Street Smart: HarperCollins, Nov.). Library Journal’s Prepub Editor Barbara Hoffert developed a stunning rapport with Albom, a natural by-the-book storyteller, who combined with Hoffert’s expertise delivered much more than a teaser. This enlightening exchange is truly a must-see.
Albom’s new novel places the small town of Coldwater, MI, at the center of a worldwide event: residents are starting to receive phone calls from the deceased in heaven, culminating in a live broadcast of a resident answering such a call. Claiming a miracle, people are acting quickly, emotions are frenetic, and the topic of love mingles with principles of faith. But not all are taken to whims, including Sully Harding, whose wife died while he was behind bars for a crime he may have been falsely accused of. Convinced the town has given into a lie, Sully is determined to uncover the truth and to protect his son, whose use of a cell phone is a sign that he’s expecting a call from his deceased mother. A subtext traces telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell’s momentous discovery, and Albom draws from Bell’s famous first words over the wire, “Mr. Watson—Come here, I want to see you,” to set up the conversation Sully later has with his dead wife.
To illustrate how love is at the story’s core, Hoffert quoted from the novel, “What in life can love not penetrate?” At first Albom could only nod—elated by Hoffert’s insight and selected line, his gesture agreed—an acknowledgement of love’s infallible grip on our lives. Commenting on the physical size of Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, Hoffert remarked, “Revelations come in small packages.”
The full interview is scheduled to go live on the Library Love Fest website in July.