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. Read more...
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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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-01-26
- Reviewer: Staff
Newcomer Arnold’s protagonist, 16-year-old Mim Malone, is as hold-nothing-back honest as they come, which makes the narrative she provides about her outlandish trek from Mississippi to Cleveland wholly enjoyable. Mim, blind in one eye from a solar eclipse and suffering from a “misplaced epiglottis” that results in unpredictable spells of vomiting, is reeling from her parents’ divorce and an unclear psychiatric diagnosis when she is dragged to Mississippi by her father and new stepmother. Determined to get back to her mother, Mim hops a bus to Cleveland, beginning an Odysseus-like adventure that introduces a delightfully eclectic cast of characters, who are made all the more memorable by Mim’s descriptions (“I’ve only known two other Carls in my lifetime—an insurgent moonshiner and a record store owner—both of whom taught me important... life lessons. In my book, Carls are a top-notch species”). There is no shortage of humor in Mim’s musings, interspersed with tender scenes and a few heart-pounding surprises. Mim’s triumphant evolution is well worth the journey. Ages 12–up. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Mar.)
Northbound and a little crazy
BookPage Teen Top Pick, March 2015
It takes a special talent for an author to tap into the mind of a character who is radically different from himself, and first-time novelist David Arnold has uncannily captured the voice of a 16-year-old girl with beauty and style in Mosquitoland.
Mary Iris Malone (or, as she prefers, “Mim”) is an unhappy teenager for many reasons: divorced parents, new stepmother Kathy, no friends at her new school. She is angry with her father for leaving her mother, for making her move from Ohio to Mississippi and for marrying a woman Mim finds ridiculous. When she overhears a conversation about how her mother isn’t feeling well, Mim decides that she needs to go back to Cleveland and see her mom. Without telling anyone, she hops on a Greyhound bus. Although her stepmother keeps calling her, Mim is sure that Kathy is the reason she hasn’t heard from her mom and so she refuses to answer. Mim’s journey is fraught with peril and rife with self-discovery as she questions her own sanity and the trustworthiness of everyone she meets.
Arnold’s prose is delicious as he peels back each of Mim’s layers on her long ride. The characters she encounters along the way and her internal thoughts about life, love, friendships and survival are pitch perfect. As with any teenager, Mim struggles with personal angst, but she is as open to possibilities as she is to the open road.
RELATED CONTENT: Read a Q&A with Arnold for Mosquitoland.
Jennifer Bruer Kitchel is the librarian for a Pre-K through eighth level Catholic school.