Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing me with the following information!
New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty returns to her roots with this YA coming of age story set in a New Jersey mall.
The year is 1991. Scrunchies, mixtapes and 90210 are, like, totally fresh. Cassie Worthy is psyched to spend the summer after graduation working at the Parkway Center Mall. In six weeks, she and her boyfriend head off to college in NYC to fulfill The Plan: higher education and happily ever after.
But you know what they say about the best laid plans…
Set entirely in a classic “monument to consumerism,” the novel follows Cassie as she finds friendship, love, and ultimately herself, in the most unexpected of places. Megan McCafferty, beloved New York Times bestselling author of the Jessica Darling series, takes readers on an epic trip back in time to The Mall.
Thank you so much to NetGalley for sending me this ARC and to Wednesday Books for inviting me on the blog tour! I was excited to read it the moment I saw it was set in 1991, which was my birth year. I’m a 90s baby, so of course most of my memories and formative years are set in the early 2000s, but I have a deep love for my birth decade and the music, pop culture, and fashion that came out of it. Growing up in a small town, the only ‘fun’ thing to do for miles was to go to the mall. I have since moved to another such rural area, and recreation opportunities have, not altogether unsurprisingly, remained unchanged since I was a child. Because of this grounding thread in my lifetime, I knew that no matter what year I was born in, I would relate to this story. Reading it, however, I found out that it was more than the place and time that I would find familiarity in. This novel is a coming of age story that will pull on the heartstrings of all its readers; no matter what generation they hail from.
We are thrust into the middle of Cassie’s seemingly perfect life. She has started a new job with her boyfriend of two years, and the two of them are planning their life together post-high school. Summer has arrived, so the joy of the inhabitants of this New Jersey city is at an all time high. It is a renewal that is much needed; especially for Cassie. She just got over mono, which knocked her out of commission for things like prom, graduation, and the first few weeks of life at her local mall’s America’s Best Cookie, so it finally looks to be the start of a beautiful season. However, she is accosted on her first day back outside of her home with an inordinate amount of change. These unexpected hurdles send her reeling straight out of her relationship, her job, and the person she thought she was. As she picks herself back up again, she finds a safe space within the halls of the Bellarosa Boutique; surrounded by Drea, her ex-best friend from fifth grade, and a treasure hunt that brings the two of them together. Through Drea’s encouragement and Cassie’s hard life lessons, we see this girl change before our eyes. She learns to love again, but this time– she’s loving herself.
I was overwhelmed by the consistent theme of being you, no matter what that means. For Cassie, it’s a complete overhaul; she realizes she doesn’t have to be the prim, proper, and perfect overachiever that her ex-boyfriend fell in love with. She starts to take risks, both mentally and physically, and is a better person because of it. For Drea, it’s understanding that she deserves to follow her dreams outside the mall. For Cassie’s parents, it’s figuring out who they are apart after years of being staplegunned to the other’s side. For Cassie’s maybe beau, the boy formerly known as Sam Goody, it’s stepping away from a life that has made him unhappy for so long to focus on the present. There are so many characters struggling in their own way within these pages, and despite the issues that they have, they find a version of happiness that suits them. It’s incredibly uplifting, and even at 28 I am still figuring out who I am, so it’s heartening to see that journey from ages 17 to 40-something in this book. It reminds you that you’re never too old to start again, to take risks, and to be happy.
The references in this book were fantastic; the treasure hunt alone was littered with relics of a bygone era, lyrics from shows and bands from the decade are strewn throughout, and there is a distinct smell in the air that the book just naturally exudes of denim, hairspray, and the chlorine from the mall fountain. It brought back the mall I remember from my youth which has now lost its own fountain and closed up many of the shops that used to be so prevalent then. The bookstore my grandmother used to take me to every weekend so I could pick out a new R.L. Stine novel may be long gone, but Spencer’s and Bath and Body Works are still going strong, and the food court is still the happening place on a Friday night. In this way, The Mall felt like home, and the hi-jinks that the varied cast of characters gets into reminded me of nights out with my best friends in high school; looking at things we didn’t have the money to buy, having scavenger hunts, and just being young and alive. There is so much energy in this novel. I felt electrified as I was reading it and just was not able to stop. I recommend this to any adult trying to recapture what it felt like to be unencumbered and surrounded by seemingly endless possibilities, and to any teenager grappling with the daunting task of growing up. There’s something here for everyone, just like the book’s namesake.
Find Megan on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/meganmccafferty
Megan McCafferty writes fiction for tweens, teens and teens-at-heart of all ages. The author of several novels, she’s best known for Sloppy Firsts and several more books in the New York Times bestselling Jessica Darling series. Described in her first review as “Judy Blume meets Dorothy Parker” (Wall Street Journal), she’s been trying to live up to that high standard ever since.
Hear more buzz about this nostalgic tale!
“The Mall was to 1991 teenagers what the iPhone is to today’s generation: EVERYTHING. This delightful novel about that particular time and place is loaded with fun, warmth, intelligence, big hair and an even bigger heart. I loved it.” — New York Times bestselling author Rachel Cohn
“Both a laugh-out-loud pean to those bygone cathedrals of the 1990s, and a zippy coming-of-age tale, THE MALL is a delightful read for any generation. So tease your hair, grab your hotdog on a stick and prepare to have a freaking blast!” — Gayle Forman, New York Times bestselling author of If I Stay and I Have Lost My Way
“What a pleasure it is to spend time in a McCafferty universe. Her writing is sharp, smart, sexy and oh-so-real. I’ll read her forever.” — Rebecca Serle, New York Times bestselling author of In Five Years
“Totally rad! This former 1990s mall teen loved The Mall, an ode to tall bangs, boys with good taste in music, and female friendship, set in the only place that mattered. What a joy to have a new book from Megan McCafferty, who knows exactly how to make us laugh, cry, and fall in love with her characters.” — Amy Spalding, author of The Summer of Jordi Perez and The New Guy
“A delightful, funny, sweet and affecting real life adventure with such a big heart, it’ll make you cry the happiest tears. The Mall is something special.” — Courtney Summers, New York Times bestselling author of Sadie
Click below to read the first chapter and prepare to finish the excerpt wanting more!