Publisher: Penguin Canada
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
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"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 is a novel that came as a surprise to me, I didn’t except to love it as much as I did. It’s been a couple months and it’s inarguable that this achingly true to life tale has has wormed its way deep, deep, deeeeep into my heart. Even now, I can still remember details about the novel and recall that truly captivating pleasure I gained while reading Mosquitoland.
Mosquitoland: the thorn in my side, the rock in my shoe, the poison in my wine.
The clear strength and holy grail in this novel presents itself in its narrator: Mim Malone. Her voice truly breathed life into Mosquitoland and her observant nature was the one of the most organic and true I’ve ever read. She has sardonic humor down to a tee and a honesty so clear that it almost emotionally heartbreaking. Despite her tone being humorous there’s an undercurrent of rawness that makes Mosquitoland an feeling inducing read. This really comes through Mim’s letters in the story, which act to connect present events to the past in a gorgeous way.
Of course Mim’s not perfect, not in the slightest. There’s clear flaws in her character and thoughts and in the beginning I would say she was acting out of pure emotion. However, there’s a sense of logic in even her most emotional moments that comes through her honesty. It’s like an a recognition and acceptance that is repeated throughout the course of the entire novel, even at the end of the story. Sure, Mim is better than she was at the start but she still has a long way to go.
My name is Mim Malone and I am not okay.
Mosquitoland takes Mim on this wild journey, one that stereo-typically would be thought as one of self-discovery is one that is just so much more. It becomes a story that, at its core, we can all intrinsically relate to on a sub-conscious level, even if we most definitely haven’t experiences and struggled with what Mim does. It is a journey that you will certainly become invested in, and one I definitely did. The juxtaposition of reality and idealization, pain and strength, hope and sorrow were all beautifully explored throughout via rich and detailed scenes and observations.
As you follow Mim on this journey you get introduced to a cast of characters who I can’t describe in any other way than ‘kaleidoscopic’. Each of these characters serve a purpose, not only to further Mim’s personal character development but they also stand on their own two feet. They are not simply blank cutouts, but feel just as real and honest in Mim. They will certainly evoke emotions just like Mim- whether sorrow, hope, laughter or complete fury. You’ll be flipping pages to see how they fit into the puzzle of the story and their own personal journey’s, even if not directly shown or cut short. Arlene, a character we only see for a very short period of time, arguably had the biggest impact on me. Perhaps due to the fact she was one of the initial influences on Mim and her story. Or maybe it was Arnold’s vivid characterization that managed to make her totally come to life for me.
Of course I really connected to Walt and Beck too. It was their unconventional love story with Mim and each other that really spoke to me. I know that a lot of you typically would think I’m thinking an romantic sort of love (there’s only a small smidgen of that in this one, more so hinted and not really explored yet left open in the most beautiful of ways that was soul aching) as all YA stories tend to include that. However, I’m thinking more of intense emotional understanding and support these characters gave to each other as they opened up to one another. They shared whatever imperfect pieces of themselves they could throughout their interactions and experiences. It’s inarguable that it does take some sort of intrinsic love for this to occur.
I cried twice during this story. It was two very different moments. One moment was one where you could visibly see that Mim splitting apart at the seams, a scene so evocative in hopelessness and pain that I couldn’t see straight. The other moment I cried at was the ending. It’s an ending that fits this novel to a tee, imperfect and definitely emotionally impactful. It left me staring at the last page for quite some time, not quite understanding right away how much the story resonated and effected me. I would say the ending is unconventional in the best of ways.
I would definitely recommend this story. It impacted me emotionally and was a pleasure to read Mim’s voice, one which I would consider to be quite unique in the genre of YA. The journey was equal parts vivid satisfaction followed by intense pain. It was an emotional roller-coaster of sorts, bonded together with an strong and memorable supporting cast that I won’t soon forget.
~Thank you Penguin Canada for the review copy~
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