Book Review || Mosquitoland

Author: David Arnold

Publishing Company: Viking (Penguin Group)

Release Year: 2015

Genre(s): YA, Contemporary Fiction

Series: N/A

My Summary

Mary Iris Malone—or Mim—is living in Mosquitoland. (Also known as the lovely state of Mississippi.) She’s going through a difficult adjustment period, living with her recently-married dad and stepmother Kathy, while her mum, Eve, is back in Ohio where Mim believes she belongs.

And did I mention how pretty the cover is? Look at that gorgeous book!
And did I mention how pretty the cover is? Look at that gorgeous book!

When her dad and Kathy are at a principal conference discussing her erratic behaviour, she happens to over hear a little something—a little something about her poor, dear mother in Cleveland battling a disease. That’s it. That’s her breaking point. She runs to her house-not-home, grabs Kathy’s “secret” coffee can of cash, and catches a Greyhound, vowing to not turn back until she reaches her mother. And so begins the journey of a lifetime. As she makes her way from Mississippi back to Ohio, she encounters so many different people: a lovely, elderly lady who she immediately befriends, a dashing young lad with whom she teams up with, a Carl, who is just as good as any Carl she’s ever met (maybe even better), and a homeless teen with Down Syndrome who she takes under her wings, to name a few. And when this winding journey is finally over, nothing is as expected, but everything is just right.

My Thoughts

Wow. Where do I even start?

Mosquitoland, told in two voices, Mim’s own point of view and letters that she writes to a relative named Iz—you’ll find out exactly who Iz is at the end of the book—is such a heartfelt, quirky, strange, laugh-out-loud-funny, un-put-down-able novel. (Notice my last adjective. XD It wasn’t a word five minutes ago, but it is now!) David Arnold brings to life so many characters, each more eccentric than the other, and somehow, he makes it work. Everything about Mosquitoland is over-the-top, and yet, everything seems so lifelike, so possible, so real. It’s a book about determination, loss, anger, friendship, fear, grief, and facing one’s self in trying to find someone else. Mim is such a great narrator—she’s witty and believable. She can be so rational sometimes, and then all of a sudden, she’s just another teen, acting on her heart and trying to navigate the crazy journey we call life. Another thing I absolutely loved was David Arnold’s style of writing. It’s so lyrical and it just captivates you so that you can’t put the book down. Can’t wait to see what’s next from him, and I couldn’t believe it was only his first book! I think that using two forms of narration was a great idea for this book; in some novels, it seems unneccesary but in Mosquitoland, it just made everything more three-dimensional. The one thing that gave me a tiny nagging feeling throughout the book was Mim’s use of “warpaint.” She draws tribal patterns on her face with her mother’s lipstick as a way of coping and giving herself strength. While her mother is part Cherokee, what Mim does isn’t exactly justified. At least Mim notes throughout the book that she know what she does may not be completely politically correct; please don’t let this discourage you from reading the novel, it’s a very minor thing. 🙂

I’ve always loved books about life-changing roadtrip, and Mosquitoland was no exception.  All in all, I found it to be a vibrant, tongue-in-cheek journey about, simply, a small girl and the big journey she takes to find home, her mother, friends, and ultimately, herself. ❤

Signing off,

Yasimone

Book blogger and Mosquitoland fan

(Oh, and happy October, you guys! Hopefully more fall-themed posts to come!)
Advertisements

Book Review || Umbrella Summer

Author: Lisa Graff

Meet Annie Richards. She’s just a regular girl… although she’s much, much more cautious than other kids. Everyone tells her not to worry so much, that she is fine— but that’s what they told Jared, her brother, and Jared died. 😥 Annie has become obsessed with being safe: she wears a bike helmet during car rides, covers her mosquito bites with Band-Aids (wondering if they might be chicken pox), and steals a medical dictionary so she can study every possible disease (and self-diagnose herself to avoid the same fate as Jared, who died of something so incredibly rare that even the doctors didn’t discover it until he after died). Annie is still fun— just the careful type of fun. When Annie’s best friend Rebecca’s hamster dies, Rebecca is distraught, but Annie is numb. Annie runs away, not being able to face another death, another funeral, and Rebecca is hurt and angry. So Annie turns to the new neighbour, Mrs. Finch, who is good-humoured, patient, and wise. And little does Annie know that Mrs. Finch is grieving too. Through weeding Mrs. Finch’s garden, playing cards, and drinking tea over a good conversation, the two bond. Not only does Mrs. Finch bring Annie and Rebecca back together, she and Annie close their “umbrellas” of grief (which block out not only the “rain” of life, but also the “sunshine”) and teach others, including Annie’s parents, to do so as well.

This is a radiant, beautiful book. It’s a heartwarming story of one girl’s grief, and what I liked about that was the fact Annie didn’t act the way you would think after someone would after their brother had died. Her way of coping with that immense amount of grief is to push it away by putting all her focus on ways to keep herself safe, so much that there’s no time left to think about Jared. And that’s the part that really makes your heart ache for her. Her friend Rebecca, though a nice girl, has a hard time understanding Annie until her own hamster dies, and her parents are too caught up in their own sadness to realize that Annie needs to learn to step out into the sunshine again. Mrs. Finch is the ultimate wise, elderly woman who’s been through everything and is happy to share ways to help others. I really enjoyed the symbolic reference of the umbrella, because I think that all of us, at some points of our lives, like Annie, get too caught up in this protection to realize we no longer need to use those “umbrellas” to block out our problems, and this book gives us that touching concept to us as a lesson from Mrs. Finch. This is a sincere, memorable story perfect for bringing sunshine into everyone’s hearts.

-Yasimone