Sarah's Stars

Wendy Mass. Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall
Little, Brown $21.50  ISBN 978-0-316-05851-3  251 pg.
Reviewed by Lindsey, Age 13

For fifty cents and a Gobstopper
I lifted my shirt for the neighborhood boys.
My older 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 is the memory floating through Tessa's head as she is knocked in the head with a dodgeball during gym class. Soon enough she is floating away looking down at her body lying on the gym floor, her neck bent at an awkward angle. She arrives in heaven, which appears to be her local mall. Tessa is uncertain about what to do now that she is in heaven, as it is empty and silent. As she explores she discovers a boy with a nail stuck in his head and they forge a tentative bond. Before long, a bag full of random items like a teddy bear, a hairbrush, a roll of toilet paper, a cookie and a fancy prom dress, are leading Tessa down a long journey past old memories, some of them beautiful and some that she'd like to forget.

Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall is a fairly quick read in light, almost aloof prose that seems as if it might as well just be written in paragraphs. The story is fairly simple. A girl goes through her memories and discovers herself, but the wry humour and the sincere scenes are nice to read and rather refreshing. The way the author has taken a simple teenaged girl's life and made it into something fragile and complicated is an unexpected twist on a rather straightforward tale. Perhaps not a memorable book but worth a read if you've got time on your hands and a longing to get lost in someone else's problems.

I give Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall 4 stars.


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