Author: David Arnold
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mental Health, Road Trip
Published On: March 3rd 2015
Publisher: Viking Children's
My Rating: 4 Stars
"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.
Mosquitoland was… something.
Possible spoilers ahead, read with caution.
I mean, for the first half of the book I had NO IDEA WHAT WAS HAPPENING. This girl, Mim, overheard her father and stepmom talking to her principal and then decides to steal money from her stepmom and travel across the country to Ohio to visit her sick mother (except we don’t actually know what’s wrong with her). She just RUNS AWAY. Doesn’t ask any questions or anything. NOPE.
Running away is understandable in some situations, I guess. But Mim is SIXTEEN and she seems pretty intelligent so I don’t know why she wouldn’t think to ask questions first, or, I don’t know, at least attempt to figure out what’s happening before just assuming a bunch of things and taking off.
That’s the thing, Mim does a lot of really stupid things. Like, hitch hiking after nearly being assaulted by someone on the bus, because that makes PERFECT SENSE. Totally.
And then following a boy into the woods on the side of a freeway or whatever. He ends up being a pretty great character and important to Mim, but you don’t just follow potentially dangerous strangers into secluded woods. NO. Kids, don’t do that. Adventures are fun, road trips are fun, but nearly dying several times because of stupid decisions IS NOT FUN.
Oh, also, Mim was kind of a jerk. But in a I-have-an-attitude-because-life-sucks-and-I’m-a-teenager kind of way, which wasn’t that bad. Mildly annoying, at worst. For me anyway. (AND it’s not just because I
am was the exact same way.) (Well, maybe.)
Side Note: WEIRD UNNECESSARY ROMANCE
It comes out of NOWHERE and it makes no sense at all. I mean, yeah it was a little cute, but a lot unnecessary, I think. I think he would have made a better friend than love interest, but oh well. While it was unnecessary as romance, he was important as a friend.
“He challenges my spirit while comforting my everything else. Beck is teaching me how to be a better person, and when you find someone who inspires you like that, you hold on for dear life. The last thing I’ll say about him is that he’s my friend. I know it sounds cheesy, but I’d rather have that than all the rest. I’ve made some royal mistakes in this life, but one in particular trumps the rest. The remedy for this miskate is so simple it’s maddening, so important, I’m going to underline, capitalize, and cursify. Ready? Here it is. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE OF FRIENDS.”
ANYWAY, I’m done ranting now.
I actually really liked this book, aside from the things mentioned above, but actually, thinking about it, those things sort of serve a purpose I guess. I mean, Mim learns things. She learns the value of friendship, and hopefully to not do those things again. Hopefully. And like she says over and over again, she is not okay. The reckless behavior is her acting out, and while she seems like a smart girl, she’s not always making decisions with a clear mind.
“I swear the older I get, the more I value bad examples over good ones. It’s a good thing too, because most people are egotistical, neurotic, self-absorbed peons, insistent on wearing near-sighted glasses in a far-sighted world. And it’s this exact sort of myopic ignorance that has led to my groundbreaking new theory. I call it Mim’s Theorem of Monkey See Monkey Don’t, and what it boils down to is this: it is my belief that there are some people whose sole purpose of existence is to show the rest of us how not to act.” – I feel like this explains some of the BAD DECISIONS.
I think this book was a lot about being independent, or at least trying to be, and taking control of your life. That’s really all Mim wants. Her father isn’t very understanding of her behavior and what she wants, although he thinks he’s doing what’s best for her. He forced her to leave a doctor she trusted and was comfortable with and made her start seeing a doctor who shared similar views as him, despite Mim’s protest. Mim ends up being prescribed a medication that she really believes she doesn’t need, and that her previous doctor didn’t think she needed (at least, not yet).
In the end, Mim takes back her life and makes her own choices, although her methods aren’t great. I think that’s kind of important.
“As simple as it sounds, I think understanding who you are–and who you are not–is the most important thing of all Important Things.”
I really loved that there was a journal/letters aspect to this book. It helped break apart the
nonsense plot and give more insight to Mim’s thoughts and whatnot. Also, despite the tragedy and sadness in this book, it’s very funny and lively. This book is definitely NOT boring. I mean, there’s a bear.
And there’s a bus accident. And MOBY DICK REFERENCES that I didn’t understand at all, really. There’s really so much happening in this book, it’s overwhelming at times, but overall, it was fun. AND THE WRITING WAS SO GOOD. so good.
“I don’t know if you read comics, but if you do, you’ll notice there usually isn’t much that separates the villain from the hero. Lonely outcasts, masked identities, troubled childhoods, misunderstood by all- very often, there’s a pivotal scene toward the end (usually during a massive thunderstorm) wherein the villain tries to convince the hero that they’re the same.”
I’m still not totally sure what to make of this book. I mentioned in my last post that I don’t often reread, but I feel like I kind of have to reread this book. Just to really make sure I followed everything. (There’s a good chance that I will never actually reread this book, but that doesn’t make me fantasize any less about actually doing so one day.)
I liked this book. Would I recommend it? YES.
No guarantees that it’ll make a whole lot of sense though.
P.S. Sorry for my overuse of the phrase “a lot.” I don’t know who I am anymore.