Book #20 of 2014: Have a Little Faith

I picked up this book mostly because I enjoy Mitch Albom’s writing and it was slim pickin’s at the library. I’m definitely more of a fiction fan and I don’t read much non-fiction at all, but as I’m in the middle of a crisis of faith, this book seemed appropriate.

This is a story of two different, but similar, men: Rabbi Albert Lewis and Pastor Henry Covington. The Rabbi asks Mitch Albom to write his eulogy, which prompts many visits and interviews so that Mitch can acquire enough firsthand knowledge to deliver a heartfelt and personal speech when the time comes. The Rabbi shares stories about his past, his marriage, his congregation, and his beliefs about life and death.

Henry Covington had a rough time growing up, and led a life full of violence, drugs, and alcohol. He finally hit rock-bottom and was prompted to clean himself up and do good, which leads him to be the pastor of a small, but faithful, Christian congregation in Detroit. Their church has holes in the roof, no heat, and should probably be knocked down and rebuilt, but none of the churchgoers mind because they are there for the community and the worship rather than the surroundings.

This was a quick read since it’s a pretty short book, and it was enjoyable to read about everyone’s transformations. It wasn’t my favorite, and it didn’t inspire any grand spiritual breakthroughs on my part, but it was a warm and fuzzy story that made me feel good.

 

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Book #8 of 2014: The Time Keeper

I was hesitant about this book. I mean, I love Mitch Albom, but when I read the jacket copy for this it just didn’t spark my interest. To be honest, I was more than a little disappointed the first time I picked it up in the store to check it out. I ended up putting it right back on the shelf and wandering over the YA section for something a little moreĀ me.

But, when I was at the library last weekend looking for new reading material, this caught my eye and I figured it was at least worth a try. It was short, and Albom never disappoints.

The book travels back and forth between different time periods as it tells the story of three people: Dor, Vincent, and Sarah. As is the case in novels like this one, they are all destined to meet and change each other’s lives forever. Dor (typing that is seriously annoying because my computer swears I really meant to type “For”) is Father Time, locked away in a cave in complete solitude after watching his wife’s dying moments. He is called upon to change the course of Vincent and Sarah’s lives, to make them appreciate the time they’ve been given.

This book wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t my favorite either. It felt a little preachy at times, really harping on the point that we all need to be thankful for whatever time we’re given here on earth because you never know when it will be over. While true, it didn’t sell me. It seemed a bit — I hate to say it — cliche. I mean, the sick old man who is afraid to die and wants to prolong his life? The heartbroken teenager who wants to end hers? And then in swoops Dor to save the day. Trust me, that’s not a spoiler — the ending was obvious from the very first page.

Book #3 of 2014: The First Phone Call from Heaven

It has been a trying week, you guys. A week full of emergency room visits, and leaving work early, and fretting, at least one panic attack, and just now, a teaspoon of Nutella straight from the jar to ease the anxiety. Normalcy is slowly resuming, and I actually found a few minutes to myself to write, so I thought I would FINALLY post a review of Mitch Albom’s The First Phone Call from Heaven.

I’ve been a fan of good ole’ Mitchie since Tuesdays with Morrie, I lovedĀ The Five People You Meet in Heaven, so I was beside myself with excitement when I saw he had a new book coming out. I didn’t even read the description — I knew from the title that I had to have it, so on to the Christmas list it went.

The gist is that a handful of people in some middle-of-nowhere small town start getting phone calls from their deceased loved ones. The calls are brief, usually only lasting a few minutes, and they don’t get into too much detail. They seem to come on the same day every week. One woman in particular starts speaking out about the calls and that inspires others to discuss theirs as well. It soon hits the national media and the town becomes overrun with reporters, news crews, and religious fanatics.

There’s at least one person who doesn’t buy it all — he lost his wife not long ago and is struggling to adjust to life fresh out of prison, AND with a young son who misses his mom more than anything. He begins investigating and eventually discovers the source of the calls, but not without a shock or two along the way.

I really enjoyed this book, both because I like Albom’s writing style and because the subject of the story fascinated me. For obvious reasons, the idea of receiving phone calls (or ANY kind of communication, really) from people in Heaven is high on my wish list. Maybe the fact that I don’t think it’s impossible added to my excitement over the book? I mean, I think anyone who has lost someone has at one time or another hoped for some sign that they are OK, happy, and still in the loop on what we’re all up to down here on Earth. This book, even though it’s fiction, gave me hope (however false and deluded it might be) that just maybe there is life after death.