Happy Saturday, guys!
We're thrilled to welcome you back to the blog tour for I Woke Up Dead at the Mall by Judy Sheehan.
Today, I'm sharing our for this book, and why you absolutely need to read this weird, funny book that absolutely captures the genuine weirdness of being a teenage - even after you're dead.
Published March 22nd 2016 by Delacorte Press
Format read: ARC via Publisher
Judy Sheehan skillfully shows readers the importance of the act of growing up and every life lesson that comes with those experiences, while also interweaving a very personal (yet extremely amusing!) story on how our individual relationships can help define us and the legacy we leave behind.
It looks like her afterlife, on the other hand, will be pretty exciting. Sarah has woken up dead at the Mall of America—where the universe sends teens who are murdered—and with the help of her death coach, she must learn to move on or she could meet a fate totally worse than death: becoming a mall walker.
As she tries to finish her unfinished business alongside her fellow dead teens, Sarah falls hard for a cute boy named Nick. And she discovers an uncanny ability to haunt the living. While she has no idea who killed her, or why, someone she loves is in grave danger. Sarah can’t lose focus or she’ll be doomed to relive her final moments again and again forever. But can she live with herself if she doesn’t make her death matter?
Author Judy Sheehan introduces to Sarah, who wakes up dead at the mall - and in a poofy mango dress, to boot. She's died from a nasty case of food poisoning, or so she thinks.
However, as Sarah adjusts to life in a mall where the dead have just as many complications as the oblivious members of the living, Sarah begins to learn that her death was not an accident. Instead, she was murdered, and it's now up to her to make sure that the murderer doesn't strike someone who's close to her, and she doesn't end up stuck at the mall and unable to move on.
So, I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started I Woke Up Dead at the Mall. I figured that the mall would probably serve as a waiting room of sorts for the afterlife, and that the title of the book indicated that the book was probably going to be taking a more humorous look at death.
However, what I didn't expect was just how astute and funny Sheehan's book would be about teenagers and the growing up - even after you're gone. Though she's very much stuck in the afterlife, Sarah's interactions with the other mall residents and her interactions with the extremely oblivious living who occupy the mall, help illustrate just how define we are by each of our individual relationships, and how it's those relationships that will drive our motivations, but also our willingness to risk life (or eternal happiness in this case!) to help those whom we care about.
Sarah's individual journey of friendship, romance and personal growth at the mall is intermixed with a broader story about family and self-determination in the real world. Sarah is privy to the the positive and harmful choices that are made by those close to her and by those whom she loves, and Sheehan presents an eloquently humorous and intelligent look at how we each have a choice in what we do, and where we eventually end up. It's actually a fairly profound look at individual choice, and I applaud Sheehan for writing such a theme with such a fine balance of humor and wisdom.
Though the book ends up exactly where readers hope it will end up, it's worth every step of the journey. Sarah's already likable as the book begins, and she ends her tale not only wiser and triumphant, but also with the type of understanding and wisdom that I hope every young reader will take to heart.
The one issue that readers may have with the book, is with Sheehan's writing style. Sheehan's style is somewhat non-linear, and Sarah spends a considerable amount of time self-consciously talking to herself, with side notes and introspective questions.
Though I would absolutely find this writing technique annoying in any other circumstances, it works brilliantly for Sarah and her situation. She's a teenaged girl who hasn't had the advantage or life experiences that come with growing up, and has abruptly been forced into a situation where she must display both. Her questioning and observations will feel familiar to readers of all ages, and helps to make an already-engaging heroine, even more likable.
I generally read at a fairly fast pace, but I found myself deliberately pacing myself as I read, because I wanted to savor my time in Sheehan's highly imaginative and bizarre world. Sarah and her fellow mall rats are worlds away from me and my life, but I found myself relating and enjoying their journeys, as they realized not only the value of their former lives, but the good that they can still continue to do in the future.
I highly, highly recommend this book if you're a fan of unusual contemporary fiction. I also highly recommend this for readers who like introspective looks at life. If you're the type of person who loves the film Ghost, this is the book for you.
Let us know what the first thing YOU would do if you woke up dead at the mall.
About the author:
Judy Sheehan is one of the original cast members and creators of the long-running stage hit Tony ’n’ Tina’s Wedding. She was the playwright-in-residence at New York City’s prestigious Looking Glass Theatre and has had plays produced there and at regional theaters around the country. She lives in New York City, which is sort of like living in a giant mall.