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 step-mom. 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.---from the book jacket"I am Mary Iris Malone, and I am not OK", says our heroine Mim Malone, who is a multi-layered character. She is not only trying to find her mother, but herself as well. At the beginning of Mosquitoland, so named by Mim because of all the bugs in Mississippi, she seems completely incapable of thinking clearly about herself or her situation. As the Greyhound trundles her North, as she ditches her medications, as she interacts with other passengers we see a new Mim emmerge and we really like who we find underneath all the layers.
"Arnold boldly tackles mental illness and despair, and sexual assault and sexual identity, without ever once losing the bigheartedness of the story. . . In the words of one of Mim's Greyhound seatmates, Mosquitoland has pizzazz--lots and lots of it." —Booklist, STARRED review
“This book makes me wish I were a school librarian, just so I could buy ten copies for my collection.” —Barnes & Noble Teen BlogAs a high school librarian I am already planning how I will get Mosquitoland into the hands of my readers by suggesting to my team that we include it on our Mock Printz reading list of books.
I listened to audiobook of Mosquitoland expertly read by Phoebe Strole. My favorite character is Walt, a young adult with Down's Syndrome who greets each situation with an exuberant, "Hey, hey. I'm Walt!"
My daughter, who listened to the book after me, read a review that said Mosquitoland was the perfect road-trip book: 5% in the beginning spot, 90% on the road, 5% at the destination. We both agreed that the best aspect of the book happened on the road. I was delighted to see Arnold's answer to the question in an interview in BookPage, What do you think it is about the road-trip narrative that appeals so well to teen readers?
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, stepping out your front door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Tolkien got it. Because WHO doesn’t want to be Frodo in this scenario? We imagine Bilbo saying these words to us, speaking of mountains and elves and dragons and man: Is it time to go yet? I won’t speak for other readers, but I think part of why I’m so drawn to a journey story is because it’s an outward display of every character’s inward struggle: How do I get from here to there? You could set an entire book in one room, and that question still holds true. -BookPage, David Arnold interviewHow do I get from here to there? That is exactly the question that teens ask, are asking, trying to figure out for themselves. During Mim's trip from Mississippi to Ohio she is allowed the time, the miles, and the experiences to start the discovery process to answer that question. Don't we all wish we could find the space and time to do the same thing?
A word of caution, the book is a bit of slow-starter. In fact, a few of my blogging friends said they couldn't get "into" it and abandoned the book after a few chapters. Be patient and you will be rewarded with a wonderful, heart-warming tale and one of the best endings in YA this year. Bravo, David Arnold on your debut book! I love it and I certainly grateful it is "packed full of quotable moments that will likely end up being literary tattoos in the future...” —The Huffington Post
Rating: 5 of 5 stars.