Published by Viking Children's Group: An Imprint of Penguin Group on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Depression & Mental Illness, Love & Romance, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
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.
This book was weird—and I mean that as a compliment. Mary Iris Malone was a collection of oddities, but as I listened to her story (audiobooks are the best), I realized that everyone is their own collection of something unique. Let the uniqueness shine and embrace it with pride.
Mim, better known by everyone but her mother, was not okay. An overheard conversation in the principals office, a stepmother that ruined her life, and a coffee can full of money and random trinkets were the first ingredients to her adventure from Mississippi, a.k.a Mosquitoland, to Cleveland, Ohio. I liked Mim. She told an honest rendition of her trek to Ohio, while also giving the reader her outlook on the world and the events of her past through a series of letters to Isabelle. She’s smart and witty, and some of her sentences were so achingly honest that it made me wish for a reason to jump in the car and go somewhere. That’s in part because this is a road trip book and partly because I listen to audiobooks only when I drive. Mary Iris Malone might not have been okay, but she was a bucket of cold water honest that I love about a book.
I’m a kissing book person. It’s a truth. I like books with kissing. The romance in this book did not involve any real kisses, but it grasped my heart and tugged all the right strings. Beck. Le sigh. Sure, there are “why did you trust a stranger” vibes, but this is a book. Give me my unrealistic fantasies and let me have them. No, I have never seen a gorgeous college-aged boy with a camera on a bus to find himself and meaning to his existence. If I ever did, the likelihood of him having a heart of gold that would make Midas jealous is even less likely. So what? Let me dream, and let me dream of all the Becks that probably (do not) exist in this world, because if I was Mary Iris Malone I would be swooning, too.
The people she met on this journey said more about Mim than they did the people. First, Arlene and how Mim fulfills her purpose with the wooden box. The way she got there was the strangest part of the book, but it snapped the lock of finality on Arlene’s story and why she was on Mim’s trip. Walt, a kid with Down syndrome that has been tossed aside by his father, said the most about Mim. She showed compassion and love for those that the world tends to look over. She was tough on human existence. Her outlook was pessimistic at best, but with Walt she was different. He redeemed her, and the glorious Beck showed her that she would probably not meet “her people” in a traditional fashion.
There’s a lot of story in this book. It’s a journey to find her mother, but it’s also a journey to find Mary Iris Malone. It has issues that resound past the teenage years, and an MC with a voice well beyond her years.