ARC Review: The Mall by Megan McCafferty

The Mall by Megan McCafferty
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Source: ARC via Netgalley

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.

I was a big fan of Megan McCafferty back in the day. I was probably around thirteen years old when I started reading her Jessica Darling series, hiding the books under others in my room so that my mom wouldn’t find out I was reading something called Sloppy Firsts. (As if she would have cared that I was reading a YA romance novel.)

A couple years ago, I went to a YA panel moderated by Megan McCafferty. I thought about how much I’d loved her books when I was younger, but still didn’t read more from her. Then I saw The Mall show up on Netgalley and knew I had to read it. 90s nostalgia set in New Jersey, where I lived for seven years of my adult life? PLEASE.

And I will say that The Mall is a fun book. It’s a very, very easy read, and it probably took me no more than three hours to read all 320 pages. It has a little bit of everything: romance, heartbreak, a treasure hunt, rekindling of an old friendship, family drama… there’s a lot here to love.

But unfortunately, because there’s so much going on, it never really focuses on anything aside from the mall. The best way I can summarize this book is “a summer at the mall,” because that’s really the only constant in the story. Sure, there’s a romance, but it’s never at the forefront of the book. Sure, there’s some heartbreak, but it’s honestly pretty brief. Sure, there’s a treasure hunt, but it never seemed to me that Cassie took it all that seriously. And sure, there’s some family drama, but Cassie seems like she just wants to pretend it isn’t happening. (Which, of course, was completely understandable.) Of all the plot threads in this book, the rekindling of an old friendship between Cassie and her coworker Drea is probably the biggest, but even that never really feels like the point of the book.

So in the end, while I had fun reading this book, I can’t say that I particularly loved it. For me, it was a solid three-star read.


Have you read The Mall? Is it on your TBR?
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