Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall

>> Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Author: Wendy Mass
Recommended Age: 12 and up
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-10: 0316058505
ISBN-13: 978-0316058506
Year Published: 2008
No. Pages: 256
Genre: Fantasy
Main Character Gender: Female
Read & Reviewed by: Kestrel

Have you ever looked back on yourlife; looked back at your mistakes and used them to change who you are now? Sixteen year old Tessa is forced to do the same. When hit by a dodge ball in gym class, she falls on the floor and blacks out. Instead of waking up in the hospital, she wakes up at the mall which is rather a natural place for her to be considering both her parents work there. Only when Tessa sees her reflection in a shop window does she realize she is still in her gym uniform and that her hair is still matted with blood. She realizes she must be a ghost or in her heaven. Luckily, a similar spirited boy shows up and gives her a bag of things she bought throughout her lifetime. These items enable her to relive moments in her past and reflect upon her life untill the accident. When she confronts the skeletons in the closet, she begins to change and learns to sparkle.

Wendy Mass jumps right into the book and into the action which gripped me, the reader, and had me turning the pages at a rapid rate. She is very good at capturing voices of children and teens, making the writing even more hilarious and believable. Since this free verse novel is writen in first person, Mass was able to use Tessa's character as a vehicle for flashbacks and these flashbacks subsequently help her gain insight about herself.

I have only just started reading Free Verse novels but like most of the ones I've read this year, this book has strong diction and is complex without being too wordy. Free Verse allows for a different style of writing and gives the author more freedom. Lists are used a lot in this book which I found helpful in a way that I could relate to because being a teenager myself, I use lists all the time. For example:

In my high school there are jocks,
preps, cheerleaders, teachers' pets,
hicks, stoners, slackers, dorks, cool kids,
band/choir/chorus/drama geeks,
regular geeks, nerds, populars, burnouts,
freaks, punks, intellectuals, scene kids,
emo kids, goths, loners, losers, wankstats,
sluts, skaters, haters, speds, strait-edgers,
floaters, and drifters.

Lists keep me reading and provide a break from the verse. In the case of this list, it captures the variety of stereotypes we teenagers often assign each other.

This book is direct and to the point. It doesn't hide adolescence from you, the reader. There are some scenes of drugs and sexual intrigue. I rated this book a 9.5/10 because I have enjoyed the plots of other books more but the writing style was fantastic.

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