Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass

Today we are doing a review of the book, Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall.  This was a surprisingly deep novel about one girl's life, in which she has made some mistakes, told through what she has bought at her hometown mall. 

16 year old Tessa is in gym class when a dodgeball accident sends her into the hospital.  Soon she is at "heaven" which strangely is just like her hometown mall where both of her parents work.  The "mall manager" gives her a bag of the most important things she has ever bought there, and Tessa is off on a reminiscent journey where she explores her not-so-savory past, reflects on the choices she has made, and ultimately must answer one question. 

This book was surprising to me.  What I thought I knew about it before I read it belied its deep writing and truth about the life of Tessa, which seemed almost too real.  I sympathized for Tessa when she felt confused and lost, I wanted to be there with her when dealing with her looks-obsessed mother.  Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall led me on a reading frenzy for Wendy Mass, who didn't dissapoint with the rest of her books.  (You may remember her book A Mango Shaped Space from March 2011 post, Different Points Of View.) 

I would recommend this book to either gender.  Someone who would love it would be likely to be a fiction reader, not opposed to sadness.  However if another genre lover were to try it I'm sure it would still be good!  It's just that kind of book.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kissing Doorknobs by Terry Spencer-Hesser

I recently read a book called Kissing Doorknobs, recommended to me by someone who "knew I'd love it."  Well, I did!  At first glance, Kissing Doorknobs looks like a quick, easy read.  After all it's thin and small.  But in no way is Kissing Doorknobs easy.  It deals with tough issues and it is deep.  You'll want to spend hours reading it and thinking.  Not only was it wonderfully realistic, but it also had funny and unique writing mixed in with a serious topic almost unknown in the world of fiction- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (or OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted thoughts or feelings or behaviors that make them driven to do something.  Carrying out this action makes people afflicted with OCD feel better--but it doesn't last.
             Kissing Doorknobs is told through the eyes of 14 year old Tara, who has been afflicted with OCD her whole life.  She was able to keep it below the surface until at 11 years old, she hears the phrase "Step on a crack, break your mothers back".  Suddenly Tara is counting sidewalk cracks wherever she goes.  If she messes up, she has to start all the way over again.  Soon Tara's strange behaviors multiply.  They begin to wreck havok on her relationships with family and friends.  She doesn't understand why she does the things that she does, only that she needs to to feel better.  Tara is confused and alone.  But then she meets someone who might have an answer to her problems.
              Kissing Doorknobs is a down to earth story.  Terry Spencer-Hesser doesn't guild OCD and she doesn't make Tara's struggles anything but what they would have been to her, which is frightening, confusing and all too real.  How does Terry Spencer-Hesser write with such passion and conviction about OCD? The book is based on her on struggles as a young adult.
             I would recommend Kissing Doorknobs to all ages.  It also doesn't matter your genre of choice because this book has a bit for every genre.  I would especially recommend this book to someone who is interested in OCD and/or struggles with it or knows someone who does.
            But when you read this book, don't read it as a break from the trials of everyday life just because it's realistic fiction.  This book will have you wondering things and asking questions you've never thought about before.