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Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy…
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Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall (2007)

by Wendy Mass

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3182154,192 (3.91)3
When high school junior Tessa Reynolds falls into a coma after getting hit in the head during gym class, she experiences heaven as the mall where her parents work, and she revisits key events from her life, causing her to reevaluate herself and how she wants to live.

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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
I'm sorry; I do like Wendy Mass's books, and this isn't bad, but it's just kinda, I dunno, superficial? I guess if it gets fans of shopping malls to read that's good. I wonder - are the words 'epic' and 'episodic' etymologically related? Cuz this is written like an epic poem, but in episodes in the MC's life, not verses.... ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Tessa narrates this novel in verse beginning with the day in gym class when she’s hit in the head during dodge ball and falls to the floor with a major head injury. She watches from above as other students run toward her, some screaming, while the teacher calls for the school nurse. She soars toward what she thinks will be heaven, but instead finds herself in the local mall where both her parents work. Waking briefly from a medically-induced coma in the hospital, she sees a boy who has been with her in the “heaven mall.” Each poem tells an episode in her life, most of which are not at all flattering to her character. As she looks at her life while she’s in the coma, Tessa realizes she has not always made good decisions, and the consequences often had negative effects on her friends and family.

The reader doesn’t know until the end whether Tessa will live or die, and where her spirit will go if she doesn’t survive. The verse format makes this book easy to read a bit at a time, since each verse is like a separate event, not always in chronological order/ I liked the story especially because the author gives no clues as to how the book will end. This book gives the reader a lot to think about. Even though the narrator is still in her teens, her situation has forced her to reexamine her life.

E. Goldstein-Erickson
  BHS.Librarians | Sep 29, 2015 |
I have only read a few books that were completely in verse and I kept feeling like I was trying to read a Shakespeare play or something of that nature. This book was a really interesting book about a teen, named Tessa, who gets knocked out by another teen in dodgeball and readers don't know until the very last chapter of the book if she's actually dead. Throughout the novel Tessa travels through the mall that she grew up in as a "mall brat" (her parents work there), with another teen, Nail Boy, who acts as a sort of Christmas-Past character for her.

Kirkus Review:

Adequate but uninspiring free verse tells the first-person story of a girl whose life is summed up by a bag of stuff. Overweight, insecure, sneaky Tessa fails to duck when a dodgeball is fired at her and ends up in a coma. Her near-death experience, like much of her life, takes the shape of a visit to the mall where both her parents work. With guidance from a guy with a drill bit in his head (a misguided attempt to get high), Tessa revisits pivotal moments as epitomized by objects (a glass bowl representing a science experiment she cheated on; a stolen bra representing her first date). Through re-experiencing her memories and examining her own flaws and those of the people around her (her mother’s constant harping on appearance amounts to abuse), Tessa predictably learns to love herself. A quick read with a commercial angle and an excellent cover (each word in a font evoking a different store), this will please readers but will be easily forgotten—much like your average day at the mall. (Fiction. 13+)

I don't know that I agree completely with the Kirkus review - yes, I certainly felt confused by the author's choice to continually bring Tessa back to the hospital room and then take her to the celestial mall, but I don't think that this book is easily forgotten. I think it teaches teens to see their own true value and can help them with their self-esteem, especially if they have a mom like Tessa's who is constantly ridiculing her and telling her not to eat sweets or junk food because she will be "known as 'the fat kid' in school and get picked on." I can't imagine ever talking to my daughter that way, but I know that parents sometimes take out their own insecurities on their children, and as Tessa says in the end of the novel, of her mom: "because I know that by trying to fix me, she is really trying to fix herself."
  LaPrieta2 | May 24, 2014 |
After being hit in the head by a dodgeball in gym class, 16 year old Tessa wakes up to a surprise visit to her town’s mall which is actually heaven. There she relives her memories of her child hood’s experience in the mall in search of one question anxiously waiting in her mind. As she relives her experiences leading up to her accident in gym, she learns more about herself and catches on to the things she has forgotten during her life as a young kid. These memories build up to the question she will later answer,

Although I have enjoyed Wendy Mass’s other books, I did however dislike this book “Heaven Looks A Lot Like The Mall” I dislike this book because I found it a little confusing, plot wise. It was jumping all over the place when more narrating could be done to explain what is going on. This book is most likely targeted for middle school students, and although it was confusing, I recommend it to kids who enjoy a book with a diary format. I however didn’t enjoy the book due to poor organization and confusion but if you're a middle school student who enjoys reading diary formed books, don’t let my comments stop you from reading this book!
  br13maoro | Jan 29, 2013 |


Heaven Looks a lot like the mall
When 16 year old Tessa gets hit in the head with a dodgeball in gym class she imagines herself in heaven. To Tessa heaven looks like the mall she visited many times in her life. She has gone there so much she practically lives there. When she was hit in the head she got a coma that took her back to the mall where she meets a boy who is her tour guide. He gives her a bag of things she has ever bought at the mall. Some things are really old and some things that are recently bought. While Tessa is in her coma she goes back to all those important moments in her life while she bought those things. These things that are in the bag are truly important in her life and they all have a story and a lesson. These things are from when she was a baby through all her life until the accident. The items start from a barbie doll when she was young to a light blue prom dress from when she was in high school. These moments she replays back to are important because it teaches Tessa a lesson because she doesn’t always make the right decision. When Tessa goes through the important moments in her life she learns all her mistakes. When she wakes up from her coma she wants to become a better person and she has learned from her past mistakes. After she got out of the hospital she went to go live a nice live and to be happy and thankful.

This book was a great story and I loved reading all the stories that Tessa went through. This story was funny at some times and the main character was a funny personality. The book was explained great and I felt as though I was there with Tessa. I liked how Wendy Mass left you hanging to see if Tessa was alright after the tour guide yanked on her oxygen tube and how she was imagining it. This book was well written.
  br13nize | Nov 24, 2012 |
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This book is dedicated to all the teenagers who shared tales of their childhood misadventures, who reminded me that sometimes being bad feels good, and sometimes being bad feels bad, and you never can tell beforehand.

I also want to thank Judy Blume, who read the first pragraph a long time ago, and made me promise to use it in a book someday. So if you don't like it, blame her. (But seriously, don't.)

And to Randi Goldberg, who after twenty-five years is still the person I enjoy going to the mall with the most.
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For fifty cents and a Gobstopper
I lifted my shirt for the neighborhood boys.
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