I Woke Up Dead at the Mall by Judy Sheehan

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i woke up dead at the mallI Woke Up Dead at the Mall by Judy Sheehan
Delacorte, 2016

In this inventive and charming YA supernatural romance, 16 year-old Sarah Evans wakes up dead in Minnesota’s Mall of America, still in the mango chiffon bridesmaid’s dress she was wearing when she was poisoned at her father’s wedding. Along with a group of other murdered young New Yorkers, Sarah must deal with unfinished business from the living world in order to move on to the next life.

Playwright Sheehan has constructed a clever and entertaining afterlife, though it doesn’t always make logical sense. The teens must work their way out of Limbo through revisiting a day in their lives, going to their funerals, and sharing in a therapy group. Their “death coach” Bertha, is an Angel, and there is an authority figure, but this hereafter does not overtly fit into any specific religious tradition.

Sarah’s lively, funny narration, liberally sprinkled with morbid wordplay, brings a light touch to this grim situation. She starts a forbidden-in-the-afterlife romance with Nick, and though their attraction in death is instant, it emerges that they have glancingly met many times in real life but never connected. The other teens, apparently all white though economically diverse, are an endearing bunch, and we learn about their lives and deaths as they each find peace and move on to their next incarnations.

With the message that life is precious and you should enjoy it while you can, wrapped up in a humorous and heartfelt story, this will have wide appeal for teen readers.

Reviewed from an ARC.

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