Summary: After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.
So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.
Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, “Mosquitoland” is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking. [Goodreads]
This book has been on my TBR list for a while now, and I was so excited to get into the library and see it on the shelf! The cover was really intriguing to me (I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, and I didn’t, it was just an added bonus), so I picked Mosquitoland up and I was only slightly disappointed.
The story starts off like most: Mim (Mary Iris Malone, Mim for short) is living unhappily with her father and stepmother in Jackson, Mississippi, while her mother is up in Cleveland, Ohio. She finds out her mother is sick, and immediately ditches school and her new family to take a Greyhound bus to see her mother. On the bus for only a few hundred miles out of almost a thousand, Mim meets Arlene, a sweet old woman going to see her gay nephew, and a few characters that you’ll be happy to see go (like Poncho Guy). But after a few too many uncomfortable moments, Mim ditches the bus and decides to go on her own adventure, complete with spending a night in the woods, running for her life, meeting the cute guy from seat 17C on the bus (and actually learning his name and a bit more about him 😉 more on that later), making real friends, wearing her war paint, breaking out of jail, and finally getting to her mother. This book was anything but predictable and I think that’s one of the biggest reasons that I liked it.
The biggest thing about Mosquitoland that I was on the fence about was Mim. As far as main characters go, she was likable, but by the end of the story I was so confused about her and her backstory that I was almost glad the book was over. Mim was intricate enough that she could have added a lot more to the story, layers-wise, but I found her narration and flashbacks more puzzling than clarifying. Although Mim wasn’t the strongest character in my opinion, David Arnold made up for that with the supporting characters. Walt, who Mim meets under a bridge and they stay in the woods where he lives for a night before both moving on to Ohio, and Beck, seat 17C, were definitely my personal favorites. It’s around the two boys that Mim is herself, not pretending to be normal or anything that she isn’t. Although the three aren’t together for that long in the novel, it was crystal clear that Mim was happiest when she was driving in that beat-up old truck with Beck, who she so obviously has a crush on, and Walt, the baby of the group who is always playing with something, like butterflies or shiny things. Along with Walt and Beck, there were so many stand-out minor characters like Ahab, Arlene, Carl and even Kathy, Mim’s stepmom.
There were a lot of things that I liked about this book, as well as a few things I didn’t like, but that’s expected. I’ve read a lot of good books so far in 2016, and not all of them can be as amazing as Dumplin’ or The Heir. I wouldn’t suggest this book to everyone, but it wasn’t that bad.
Rating: 3 stars
Favorite Quote: “When you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries while you rejoice.”