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Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall Hardcover – September 1, 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 158 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up—With a dodge ball soaring toward her head, time slows as Tessa considers all of the trivial things floating through her mind; an Ashlee Simpson song, the wedgie she has from her gym shorts, and the color of the dodge ball. But the final thought she must consider is the question she needs to answer—if only she could remember it. At 16, Tessa finds herself in heaven taking a journey through past events in her life while she wavers in and out of consciousness in the hospital. Written in verse, her recollections span her earliest memories as a toddler to her most recent memories leading up to the gym-class accident. Tessa's witty and honest voice tells the story of a girl who struggles to make friends, maintain family relationships, and to be honest with herself. Before she can return from where the accident has taken her, she must face the reality of her life and her role in creating that reality. However, what Tessa discovers is a truth that is far more optimistic and promising than she gave herself credit for. Tessa's journey and authentic voice is one that readers will appreciate. Her tendency to turn a blind eye to the good in others and herself is a trait that many teens have in common. What makes this novel unique is its ability to bring the character to this realization without being preachy or condescending. Funny, thought-provoking, and at times heartbreaking, this story will entertain and inspire readers.—Lynn Rashid, Marriots Ridge High School, Marriotsville, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Wendy Mass is the author of the ALA Schneider Family Award winner A Mango-Shaped Space and Leap Day. Her most recent novel, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, was a Book Sense Pick. Wendy lives in Sparta, New Jersey with her husband and her twin daughter and son.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316058513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316058513
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,919,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Imagine a fluorescent orange dodgeball. A dodgeball doesn't do a lot of damage...or does it? Now picture it hurling toward you at rapid speed, and you are glued to the floor, unable to move. Then you're hit, falling to the ground and blacking out. You think you are dead, but you're not, since you're at your favorite mall where you spent most of your time over the years. You have a chance so you can see some choices you made to lead to the mall. This is what happened to Tessa Reynolds, who is the main character in Heaven Looks a Lot like the Mall, by Wendy Mass, which was published just one month ago. Here is the opening paragraph to the novel:

"For fifty cents and a Gobstopper,
I lifted my shirt for the neighborhood boys.
My oldest brother Matt caught us
and chased the boys with a Wiffle bat.
Word got around, and at nine years old
I became the girl
other girls' moms
didn't want them to play with."

This book is unusual because it is written in verse. Normally that would be a story that I'd think it was boring, but this is written and a very simple, easy to follow way. I thought of this like going from elementary school to middle school. Elementary school was okay, but still enjoyable. Middle school is new, different, and more exciting. When I read the first few chapters, I paid attention to the verse often. After a while, I got caught up into the plot, and forgot about the format, written in verse.

"Nail Boy starts taking each object
out of the bag and lining them up
on the counter.

"A white fluffy teddy bear with a red bow around the neck..."
"A box of assorted crayons..."
"A roll of toilet paper...
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Format: Hardcover
When 16-year-old Tessa sees the orange dodgeball flying at her from across her high school gym, it never even occurs to her to duck. Soon after, she finds herself floating towards heaven, which looks just like the mall where her parents work and where she has spent a good deal of her life.

She is led to the Lost and Found, where she is given a bag of items: items that she has taken home from the mall during her lifetime, and each item takes her on a journey to her past. She relives several memories, many of which she'd rather forget, and she realizes that it is up to her to sort through her life up until the moment the dodgeball hits her and finally answer the most important question of all.

I really enjoyed HEAVEN LOOKS A LOT LIKE THE MALL, and would definitely recommend it, especially to fans of stories like A CHRISTMAS CAROL. It is written in verse, but if that's not your thing, don't let it stop you! About a quarter of the way through the story I stopped noticing the verse because I was so engrossed in the story, and Wendy Mass does a wonderful job making the reader feel for Tessa, even if she's not always the most likeable person.

Whether you're looking for a fun summer read, an interesting verse novel, or a deeper story about life and death, you shouldn't miss HEAVEN LOOKS A LOT LIKE THE MALL.

Reviewed by: Andie Z.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wasn't really expecting to like this one as much as I did. It's not the most original of plots; there are similarities to both It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol (the latter of which is actually referenced in the story). But just because we know the basic gist of how things are going to play out doesn't take away from the individual, unique experiences of Tessa's life that have shaped who she is.

Tessa is less of the stereotypical mean girl you'd expect in a story like this and more of a complex, real teenager. Her "evil" deeds don't slap you in the face all at once, and even when she's talking about how her moral compass is broken, you realize that it's not *that* broken if she can see that there are things about herself that need improving.

The pace and story structure worked well. We're thrown into the action right away, with Tessa contemplating what's going to happen when that dodgeball (currently flying through the air) hits her head. Much of the rest of the story is told in flashbacks, from babyhood to the junior prom. Tessa's life is pretty unremarkable, but I think that's part of what makes the book work. You can relate to a girl who's not drop-dead gorgeous, who has issues with her parents and brother, who's neither rich nor poor, who's an average student, and who's made some mistakes either out of immaturity or stupidity. It was refreshing, especially in a world of YA fiction that's often populated by a perfect, gorgeous girl and her otherworldly problems.

That's not to say there wasn't some otherworldly stuff going on here. Tessa's near-death experience, in which she finds herself in a near-facsimile of her local mall, complete with a mysterious boy who guides her through the experience, is an interesting take on the trope.
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A Kid's Review on October 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Are you in the market for a great read? Well, if you are, then look no further than Heaven is A Lot like the Mall by Wendy Mass. This newly released fictional novel takes the reader on a near death experience with the main character Tess. Tess is a high school junior who has really been letting good life experiences pass her by, and in the process, has failed to figure out who she truly is as a person. In the tradition of Dickens' Christmas Carol, Tess has to maneuver her way through heaven's mall to remember and uncover the meaning of her life thus far with only a bag full of objects and a boy with a gruesome head injury for guidance. This book was nonstop read as I wanted to know what each item in Tess' shopping bag represented. It was also fun to relate to some of Tess' memories; like a first hair cut, making and losing friends, and shopping for prom dresses. Mass' poetic style also made the book a quick read, but not necessarily an easy one. The reader really had an opportunity to dig beneath the surface and try to understand the lessons life teaches. For readers who enjoy a deeper meaning to a story, but also one depicted with a great style and sense of humor, than Tess and her celestial mall is the book for you!
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