by David Arnold (Goodreads, Twitter, Website)
Published by Headline on March 3rd, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Edition: Paperback (368 pages)
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"I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange."
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.
Realistic fiction isn't something I regularly pick up, and frankly speaking, I've only read a few, and with just a small number of those added in the 'double thumbs up' pile. My last realistic fiction read, Underwater, depicted a story of a young girl with mental illness. Mosquitoland (although follows the same prospect of a teenager suffering from mental illness) is a lot different. First and foremost, Mim, the main character of David Arnold's coming of age novel, suffers from schizophrenia, but it isn't entirely the highlight of the novel.
Mosquitoland follows Mary Iris Malone, or rather, 'Mim' as she travels alone all the way to Cleveland to see her sick mother. At first glance, Mim sounds like any regular young adult character--a rebellious teenager with anger management issues but there's more depth to her character as a brave soul, which I enjoyed the most, particularly her eccentricities and weirdly hilarious quirks featuring her unapologetic dry humor.
At the beginning, Mim writes a letter to an 'Isabel'. Who she is, no one has a clue but subtle clues pop up randomly as we take a trip with Mim starting from her first board on the Greyhound bus, along with other particularly eccentric characters—from the hippie lady to the creepy poncho man and a incredibly attractive lad with a rockabilly swagger plus an adorable little fella.
Mosquitoland is a roller coaster ride and a burst of realistic yet whimsical adventures, revolving from past to present—perfectly woven through Arnold's writing. There's a short romantic twist involved, which feeds my hungry romantic soul (thank you, David Arnold)—a perfect addition to balance out the incredible character growth in our young girl, Mim.
This book fueled by love for realistic fiction, with its beauty and hilarious oddity, is surely something that will keep you turning page after page. Its quirky and brilliant nature will never keep you bored, because honestly, if you love adventure, then I've got four words for you: Pick. This. Up. Now.