Book Review: Mosquitoland

The following article originally appeared in Juniata High School's newspaper The Arrowhead.  

In Mosquitoland by David Arnold, Mary Iris Malone, better known as Mim, is not okay. She’s already disappointed with the fact that she’s been forced to move to Mississippi with her father and his new wife. When she gets called to the principal’s office and overhears the principal and her parents discussing her mother and an illness she has, Mim can’t take it anymore. She has to go back north to Cleveland to find her mother before Labor Day- their favorite holiday together. Promptly, she runs home, packs a bag, and grabs the jar of money that her stepmom has stashed in her bedroom. Then off to the bus station she goes.

My favorite aspect of this novel is definitely the characters. Mim encounters quite a few interesting ones during her journey to Cleveland. Some she stays with for quite some time, while others she only has a brief interaction with. Either way, they are all extremely memorable and, most of them, not just plot fillers. Mim, though, is definitely the shining star. She has an attitude that keeps her pushing herself, and she has just enough sass to get her point across when needed.

Mosquitoland also tackles a couple of important issues, but not so much that they overwhelm the plot and detract from the storyline. Mental health comes up occasionally, as does sexual assault. Both are things that cause concern in today’s world and need to be addressed. Personally, I think this book does a great job of doing so.

This is the perfect book for a traveler, one who wants to travel, one who constantly has everything go wrong, and maybe even for the truly adventurous ones out there. Mosquitoland is not just a tale of getting from point A to point B, but a tale of survival and discovery along the way. Sure, the things that happen may be a tad unrealistic, especially toward the end of the book (fighting on top of a gas station, for example), but that’s what reading is all about- escaping reality.

By: Haylee Yocum 

Mr. Trotman is a Civics and Political Science Teacher at Juniata High School.

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