Author: David Arnold
2015 – YA – Realistic Fiction
The Story: After the divorce of her parents, Mim finds herself in a new home in Mississippi, living with her dad and his new wife. Then the letters and phone calls from her mother stop suddenly, leaving Mim feeling abandoned. So she leaves home to take a trip up to Ohio to find her mom and the answers she’s been seeking. With plenty of quirky characters and stops along the way, Mim’s journey quickly becomes more than it seems.
The Opening Line: I am Mary Iris Malone, and I am not okay.
Thoughts: When this book first began making the rounds online, I decided pretty quickly that I would probably never read it. Based on blog reviews, official blurbs, and just the look of the book itself, I concluded that I probably wouldn’t enjoy it, so why waste the time reading it?
Friends, I was wrong. I don’t remember why I picked it up. I know the author lives in the same city as me because I missed seeing him at the local bookstore a while back. So maybe that was the reason I picked it up. Or maybe since EVERYONE seemed to be reading it, I wanted to know what the fuss was all about.
Turns out, there’s a pretty deep story and some lasting lessons to be found in Mosquitoland. The book deals with everything from friendships to family issues to mental illness to sexual assault. On the surface, it’s about Mim’s journey on a Greyhound bus from Mississippi to Ohio. Pretty simple, right? Buy a ticket, ride, arrive. But that wouldn’t make for an interesting book, so Arnold shakes things up by inserting some quirky characters and unpredictable events that force Mim to slow down and evaluate her life.
From Walt, the sweet homeless kid with Down Syndrome, to Beck, the cute college guy who offers to drive her to Ohio, to Arlene, the older lady Mim meets on the bus, the characters run the gamut of human behavior and personality. Each one has a lasting effect on Mim, teaching her how to look beyond her own perspective and let others influence her for the better.
A great takeaway from Mosquitoland is that things may truly be more than they seem. Mim sees only a limited perspective, but as she learns more and more, she is able to reevaluate how she views the relationships in her life. In my own life, I have to do this almost on a daily basis. I have to remind myself that people are humans, that they have their own struggles and triumphs that I know nothing about that influence the way they interact with me. I have to admit that they have context that I don’t always understand. I have to remind myself to have patience in interactions, whether with strangers or with my roommates. I often find that I have learned something from people that I wouldn’t have learned had I brushed them off.
I’m glad I picked this up. I’m glad my first impressions of this book, as they often are with people, were wrong. I’m glad I let Mim into my life. It was worth it.