Summary from Goodreads:
When 16-year-old Tessa suffers a shocking accident in gym class, she finds herself in heaven (or what she thinks is heaven), which happens to bear a striking resemblance to her hometown mall. In the tradition of It's a Wonderful Life and The Christmas Carol, Tessa starts reliving her life up until that moment. She sees some things she'd rather forget, learns some things about herself she'd rather not know, and ultimately must find the answer to one burning question—if only she knew what the question was.
Written in sharp, witty verse, Wendy Mass crafts an extraordinary tale of a spunky heroine who hasn't always made the right choices, but needs to discover what makes life worth living.
In the interest of full disclosure, I picked this book up because it was a novel in verse and because my youngest sister read and liked it (it’s rare to find her with a book that’s not manga). I probably wouldn’t have read this on my own, since this sounds suspiciously like The Lovely Bones and If I Stay, neither of which I enjoyed. So there you have it.
Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall is a really short book, and it’s extremely easy to read. Mass’s poetry reads like very juvenile prose—maybe something in a younger middle grade book. Personally, I wasn’t impressed, since her poetry didn’t feel like poetry. Rather I thought she just threw some line breaks and stanzas into her writing to make it seem cool. There’s not really a correct way to write poetry, but I personally think Mass went a little crazy with enjambment in this one.
Additionally, there isn’t much of a plot to this book. Basically, Tessa gets hit in the head by a dodgeball, slips into a coma, and has an out-of-body experience where she watches important scenes in her life slip by. But the presentation was very straightforward and felt childish to me. Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall is basically a series of scenes that range from Tessa at a year old to Tessa at junior prom, told chronologically. There was no conflict and no rising action. Just little pieces of Tessa’s life laid out very unceremoniously.
Altogether, I’m just “meh” in regards to this book. It honestly felt like something geared toward elementary-aged children, and considering Wendy Mass’s main claim to fame is her children’s books, this makes sense. This entire book felt oversimplified and silly. It wasn’t bad, and I think that if I were my sister’s age, I might have liked it more.