I recently finished reading Mosquitoland, by David Arnold!
"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."
When I started Mosquitoland, I had no expectations - I was lucky enough to meet David Arnold in April at YalFest.NL, but I honestly did not know what his books were about or what kind of author he was.
Super prepared, right?
Recently I decided to do a 24-hour readathon to see how much I could get done in a day, and to try to reduce my huge Goodreads Goal lag. I started with Mosquitoland, finished it in the day, and am now in the biggest reading slump I've been in for years.
This book was amazing!
Mosquitoland follows Mim - a girl who ran away from home to visit her mom in Ohio, who she believes is sick. This book is in the style of a road trip, and each of her stops is stranger than the next, with complex characters and an incredible, funny narrative.
Of course, her road trip does not go as planned, there are accidents, she meets strange people that may not want the best for her, etc. But she also meets good friends and gets pulled into stories that are almost unimaginable.
I loved the way David wrote this - it was smart and funny and light on the heavy issues. It covered mental illness and societal problems in a really unique way, compared to contemporaries I have read before.
What I appreciated was the way he approached mental illness. So often, contemporary authors are put down for their portrayal of mental illness, saying it's 'romanticized' or not explained right. David Arnold does have some characters will such illnesses, but he never really puts a label on them. One of the side characters is described to have autistic-like characteristics, while the main mentions of Mim's illness are the fact that she needs to take daily medicine, and that she knows that people around her think she has a problem. They way it was described made mental illness a background feature of this book, rather than a pivotal plot point, which was very refreshing!
A lot of this book was centered around personal relations between people - whether they are strangers, friends or people who have to be dealt with despite disagreements or dislikings. We saw Mim's perceived relations with both her mother and step-mother, her father, and strangers. Strangers always had a distinctive feature about them as their 'name', such as Poncho Man. People she considered as friends were called by their first names. I loved each of the characters, even all of the side characters that were only around for one chapter!
The plot of the book was unexpected but done really well - nothing was so incredibly out of the ordinary that it fell into the ridiculous, which was great! Through the series of events, Mim goes through loads of character developments that I found amazing! She grew through friendships with very different people, which is something that I can relate to and really enjoyed reading about!
The ending of this book was unexpected, emotional, and came out of nowhere. There was loads of redemption and none of it was cliche!
I could keep gushing about this book for hours, but, because of upcoming travels, I have to stop my review here!!
I'm giving this book a 5/5 feathers - it was so great!
Have you read Mosquitoland? What did you think of it? Let me know!!