by David Arnold
Mosquitoland was one of those books I heard great things about and put on my TBR list for reading at some point. Sometimes I see a book like this on the shelf and decide that now is as good a time as any to read it and I go for it! That’s just what happened with Mosquitoland. Well, I started reading it and it was weird. The flow was a little odd and I did not really get the main character or the plot at first. That being said, it was odd in a good way. In a way that kept me intrigued and reading. As the story unfolded, I got more and more swept up in the story and by the end I was loving every second. This story was a late bloomer for me, but I’m so happy I read it.
Mim is the narrator of this story. She is going through a hard time: her parents have divorced, her dad remarried and moved her to a whole new state, and her mom has stopped writing/calling her. Mim is a little “not alright” about all of this and decides to run away from home and find her mom. She encounters many detours along the way that help her grow and change. Spoilers: Mim meets a kind old lady named Arlene on the bus she takes to get to her mom. Arlene is taking a mysterious box to her gay nephew. The bus gets into a horrible accident and Arlene dies. Mim finds the box and decides to try and find the nephew. But she has another detour when she meets a homeless boy with special needs named Walt. They bond and become friends who together set off to deliver the box. They do and then they encounter another detour when they bump into Beck, a college student who was on the bus and has his own mission to find his foster sister. They set out together and find her, but it is a disappointment. Their next stop is Mim’s old house. While she is taking it all in, SURPRISE, Mim’s stepmother, Kathy arrives, having tracked them down. Finally, the pieces start falling into place. Kathy takes Mim to her mother. It is crushing. Mim’s mother is very ill and is fading away. Mim realizes then that Kathy and her father are doing their best and really love her. Her mother has been the one distancing herself to protect Mim. Mim returns home while Beck sets out with Walt to find Walt’s mother. Mim and Beck have a strong connection and they part with a hope to reunite the next year with Walt. All through the book Mim has been writing Isabel, the name of her aunt who was mentally ill and killed herself when Mim was young (Mim actually was the one who found her hanging in the basement). But you find out that her dad and Kathy are pregnant with a little girl and have named her Isabel . . . Mim has been writing to her the whole time.
Summing it up: Give this book a chance in the beginning because I highly recommend it!
All the best, Abbey
P. S. One of the main themes of the book is mental health. Mim’s aunt had depression and anxiety, Mim’s mother has some form of it, and Mim likely does herself. Part of Mim’s journey is accepting that and figuring out the best way to get help (therapy/meds/etc). It is a powerful message and one that is very relevant today. This message was woven throughout in a strong, meaningful way.
Some memorable quotes:
“Writing sort of . . . rounds off the sharp edges of my brain . . . . Either way, you should write. It’s better than succumbing to the madness of the world.” -Aunt Iz
“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.” -Mim
“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.” -Mim
“DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE OF FRIENDS.” -Mim