Heaven looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass
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.
Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson