Author: David Arnold
Publishing Company: Viking (Penguin Group)
Release Year: 2015
Genre(s): YA, Contemporary Fiction
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.
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.
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. ❤
Book blogger and Mosquitoland fan