Thursday, September 20, 2018

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Narrated by Phoebe Strole
Synopsis (via Goodreads): 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. 
“When you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries while you rejoice.”
I didn't know what to expect when I started this, because I initially chose to read the book based on its cover. There was just something about it that piqued my interest. I'm really glad I went with my gut on this one, because David Arnold has crafted a really beautiful, sometimes heartbreaking, story with lovely language and imagery.

I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook, and thought the narrator did a wonderful job expressing Mim's unique personality. Mim likes to leap before she looks, and then she just deals with the consequences. She sees detours as opportunities, and finds friendship in the unlikeliest of places.

“So I float in silence, watching the final touches of this perfect moonrise, and in a moment of heavenly revelation, it occurs to me that detours are not without purpose. They provide safe passage to a destination, avoiding pitfalls in the process.”

I hated that Mim felt so alone in her life, and that her father had stopped thinking about her interests. He was too focused on the past, and a future that may or may not happen. He subjected Mim to medication simply because he was afraid of what might be. He thought he was educated on the subject matter because he read a book about it, and that one decision impacted his daughter in a really profound way.

“I have limited experience, but I know this: moments of connection with another human being are patently rare. But rarer still are those who can recognize such a connection when they see one.”

I loved that this book was more about Mim's journey than the outcome, which is good, because I found the ending to be unsatisfactory. She's trying to get to her mother the entire book, and her experiences were often unpleasant and disasterous. She's a young girl traveling alone, and people aren't always decent and kind. They're often cruel and self-serving, despite Mim's positive outlook.

Speaking of the dangerous situation she placed herself in, I don't think her actions were adequately addressed. She was almost assaulted, comes close to dying a few times, barely mentions personal hygiene (which is important because a wound she received), and ate questionable food that could have ended her life right then and there. Mim was able to get through these things relatively unscathed, but others were not as lucky.

Mim is brilliant, but she's also reckless and a little lost. I think she's trying to find herself while also trying to find her mother. The sporadic journal entries were interesting, and allowed us to glimpse Mim's past while being in her present. She's a complicated mess, but I really enjoyed her outlook on the world. Her mother taught her to view people and places with love and understanding. She's not your typical teenager, but an old soul walking around in a young (albeit broken) body.

Beck and Walt were her people, and I adored them both. Beck's history was questionable at first, but I quickly understood Mim's instant attraction. There was just something special about him. He's older than Mim, but they address that issue pretty early on. They both know it would be wrong for them to start a relationship and instead choose to admit their feelings and form a really solid friendship. There is a potential for something later on, and I like that Arnold left us with some hope at the end. Hope for Mim, her family, Beck, and Walt.

“And even though things are heavy right now, it occurs to me how happy I am just to be with my friends. Sure, I'd love to kiss-hug-marry-hold Beck, but for now, I'm happy just to be with him. Sometimes being with gets overlooked I think.”

Walt is a beautiful person inside and out, and I am so frustrated and angry on his behalf. He has a disability, something that makes him different but no less amazing, and his father abandons him after his mother's death. He just handed Walt some money and sent him on his way. He was still a child incapable of truly taking care of himself, and his circumstances killed me. He deserved so much more, and I'm thrilled he stumbled across Mim and later Beck. They're his people, too.

“Beck’s smile is intense and sincere, a smile with, not a smile at. Mom used to say you could tell a lot by the way a person treats the innocent, and Walt is nothing if not innocence personified.”

There were so many quotes and passages that I wanted to share from this book, but there just wasn't enough space for all of them. There were entire chapters that I wanted to mark, highlight, and annotate to my heart's content. It's definitely a book I will buy and re-read in the future. Mim's story is one for the ages, and I hope more people aspire to live their lives with as much love and acceptance. Sometimes we're wrong, but it's how we choose to right those wrongs that matters. We should all want to help the Walt's of the world, and be willing to embrace the unexpected detours in our lives.

22 comments:

  1. I’ve been wanting to read this one forever. Glad to see it’s as wonderful as I think it’s going to be.

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    1. I really enjoyed it! The audiobook was wonderful, but I would suggest reading a physical copy first! There were so many quotes and paragraphs I wanted to mark. I also loved Mim's outlook on life, and the way she chose to live her life. Let me know what you think!

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  2. Wonderful review! Too bad for the instalove tag. Seriously...I can't LOL.

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    1. It's definitely a love-at-first-sight thing, but one that I was okay with. Girl likes boy, boy likes girl, but they develop a strong friendship without ever crossing a line. Mim would often think inappropriate thoughts about him, but Beck was always a gentleman. He knew that whatever spark was between the two of them would have to wait until she was older. He also had some stuff to figure out! There are brief kisses to the forehead, but nothing major in the love department. I added the tag because she does fall in love right away, even if she doesn't act on it. Does that help?

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    2. Heh...still a little too romancey for my tastes. (Thanks, it helps!)

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  3. P.S.: I have another Arnold book on my TBR list though...The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik.

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    1. Just added it to my TBR! That cover is TRIPPY. If you read it before I do, let me know what you think!

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    2. I saw that! It's not one of my top priorities right now though, so you might even read it before me. I'm putting together my Christmas wish-list, and there is older stuff I want to prioritise because seriously - THOSE POOR FORGOTTEN BOOKS LOL. Plus, books for which I'm more excited. But I read an excerpt and it was promising.

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    3. I've been adding books to my wish list ALL YEAR! Haha! I have it set up on Goodreads. ;)

      I know what you mean... I've been trying to go back and finish all the older series I started. I'll probably have to re-read a lot of the first books, since I doubt I'll remember all the details. I just know I enjoyed them and wanted to continue, but life happened. <3

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  4. I have this one on my shelf and totally need to get to it. I have heard only good things. Stinks the ending wasn't satisfying though. Great review!

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    1. It just wasn't the ending I wanted, you know? It fits the rest of the story, but ugh. It's a really lovely, well-written book. I loved the way Mim viewed the world!

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  5. The cover has caught my eye too on my last book shopping spree but I had already bought more books than my bank account approves of so I guess I`ll have to wait a little while for this one.

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    1. Story of my life! I always want all the books, but can only choose a few of the books. It's not like I actually need more books, but it's a hard itch not to scratch. ;)

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  6. I love David Arnold books. All three have been solid winners for me, and this was a fantastic journey we got to take with Mim, who was fabulous, by the way.

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    1. Mim was totally fabulous! I wish her dad had been more present in her life, and like that Arnold showed (subtly) how marital problems/divorce can affect a child. I don't think Mim even realized how her parents started acting around her, because it became her normal. They stopped being united and clearly wanted different things for their daughter. Despite that, Mim has become quite the person. She's loving and accepting, daring and somewhat reckless, and she isn't afraid to go after what she wants. Also, Walt!

      "Hey! Hey! I'm Walt!"

      "Damn straight."

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    2. I plan on reading his other books in the future! Which would you suggest I start with?

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  7. I read Kids of Appetite by him but this sounds like a better fit for me.

    I love when there are so many quotable passages!

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I really enjoyed the audiobook, but now I need a physical copy to write in. There were a lot of things I wanted to comment on, and even more I wanted to highlight or mark.

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  8. I have had this on my Kindle FOREVER! One of my blogging buddies, Jolene from Jo's Book Blog, loves and adores this author. I feel bad every time she posts a new review and I haven't even read this one yet. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I want to read it even more, now. 📚✨

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    1. I've been to Jo's Book Blog before! If she has recommend this book to you, she's a wonderful friend. I hope you're able to read it soon, and you already own it! It was a lovely story with complicated characters. <3

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  9. This is a really great review, and I so glad you enjoyed it! I didn't unfortunately. I didn't really see the point of the story, there were so many random things that happened that didn't really make any difference to the plot, they were just there, and I found parts of it to be really problematic. Plus, I didn't like the way the story was told. But so many people loved this book, and yours is a really thought out review. It wasn't for me, but I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

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    1. I'm sorry this one didn't work for you! There were a few minor things that bugged me, but I enjoyed it overall. The ending was a disappointment (I wanted more from the interaction with her mother), because it felt like a huge letdown after all that build up. I mean... she was trying to get to her mother the entire book, and then she sees her for maybe 5 minutes. I loved Walt, though. He was such a sweet kid, and so loving despite his circumstances.

      I also wish she'd said/done more about Poncho Man. UGH.

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“Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff and much of a muchness and nonsense all over again. We are all mad here, don't you know?”
― Marissa Meyer, Heartless