Hey, lovely people!! Today, I am going to take some time to rant & ramble about some pretty amazing things. Firstly, I'm gonna tell you right out, I AM FINALLY READING AGAIN!!!
**CROWD GOES INSANE**
Secondly, I am officially on summer break!!
**THE HANNAH GOES WILD** (meaning that she leaps headfirst into a pile of delightful books that have been waiting on her for months, as well as long-overdue blog responsibilities and other reasonable things...)
Thirdly, I am making plans to attend writing conferences this summer!!
Yes, it's all quite exciting. I am very ready for fun summery things. And nothing quite gets me in the mood for summer like reading. Especially books that have to do with travel. (Because traveling is awesome-sauce, don't deny it.) So, in a fit of wanderlust, I decided to grab this copy of Mosquitoland by David Arnold & gobble it up in two days.
I bought it last year but never had the time to enjoy it, and I'm honestly glad I saved it until now. It was quite nice, and I feel the strong need to break down why I liked it and what I didn't like as much about it. So let's get to it!
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.
The plot/storyline was the main reason I bought the book in the first place. I can never resist a good road trip story. I felt like the idea of mixing mental illness and the journey of a lifetime seemed interesting. But the beauty of this story isn't the physical journey alone. Mim Malone is transitioning from adolescent-childhood into young adulthood. It's not just a road trip... It's a coming-of-age trip. Throughout the story, Mim is met with overwhelming obstacles that she overcomes with her sarcastic wit, her strong inner voice, and her sassy/kick-butt attitude.
What's not to like?
Mim Malone (aka Mary Iris Malone) is a typical sarcastic 16-year-old, in my opinion. She refuses to wear makeup, excepting one article belonging to her mother, and has a habit of scribbling letters in a "stick figure" journal. However, her father is over-the-top concerned that she is mentally ill & Mim goes to psychologists a lot. I think that Mim is relatable because she is going through a time of her life where she is discovering that things she once believed to be true are actually very different than what she originally thought... It's a tough season, and I feel that her character captures that very well. While she can be a HUGEEEE pain in the butt and selfish, she is still a fun character. My favorite quote from her is...
"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."
Beckett Van Buren (aka Beck) is a cute photographer dude whom Mim meets on her Greyhound trek. He eventually gets sucked into her story and becomes her bestie and *whisper* forbidden love interest. He is an idealist and enjoys nature and beautiful things. He is compassionate, caring, and slightly underdeveloped. I wish the story had developed him more, but the whole thing takes place in a few days, and he IS a side-character. So it's understandable. My favorite quote from him is...
"You ever have the feeling you lost something important, only to discover it was never there to begin with?"
Walter (aka Walt) is a sweet-hearted homeless boy with Down Syndrome who meets Mim during one of her lone excursions into the abandoned areas of the city. He likes shiny things, the Cubs, Mountain Dew, and claims that his mother is dead. You don't learn much about his character other than this though. I felt it a huge disappointment that his character was not further developed. He was sooo sweet!!
Obviously, I loved the wanderlust aspect. I love the trio of friendship. I liked that mental illness was addressed and that it didn't 100% support medication always being the answer for everything. I loved the coming-of-age themes, because I feel like we all need a dose of that every now and then. I liked the letter format off-and-on, as it showed Mim's innermost thoughts. In general, I felt like it was a nice read & I wouldn't mind reading it again sometime.
It read a lot like a John Green book. Which is a good thing AND a bad thing. Good thing because I love Green's writing style. His quirky way of wording things is unparalleled and is super scrumptious. So it was very reminiscent of that. (And I'll go ahead and tell you why it's a bad thing too.) Bad thing because....... well, it's not John Green. I get that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but developing your own style is key. If I hadn't seen "David Arnold" written on the front of the book, I'd have thought it was written by John Green. Just saying. (Still loved the style though!!!!)
Also..... THE COVERRRRR!!! I mean, it's fantastic. Just looking at it makes me wanna read it. It totally suits the road trip/wanderlust vibe & it's just delicious.
While I was glad that mental illness was a primary part of the story, I didn't feel like the author accurately portrayed these issues nor did any decent amount of research for it. Mental illness names were thrown around here and there, and I'm not completely certain that they were the right diagnosis. I just didn't like that all of these somewhat medical terms were tossed around in order to sound good. It could have been done better.
Also, even though I ADORED Walt, I almost felt like he was just a token character. I know this isn't true, because he helps Mim to develop some resemblance of sisterly instinct that she kind of needs later on in the story. But I still want MORE from Walt. He deserves it. He doesn't really do anything & Mim looks at him sometimes as almost an annoyance. I just wanted a stronger focus & development in him, and not just use him as a story prop.
I didn't like the amount of language in the book, so my trusty Sharpie marker stayed by my side the entire time. (The F-bomb, S-bomb, and a couple of D-words were the main culprits.) As I said, I scribbled them out & it was basically as good as new. However, I didn't appreciate having to do that in the first place. Just plain disappointing... However, I know this is purely personal preference, so if that doesn't bother you, go ahead.
Lastly, the topic of sexual assault was touched on in the beginning, and while it is an actual issue, I don't like having it in the entertainment I consume. There is a creepy stalker-guy who follows Mim & corners her in a bathroom at one point (red flag, much?). She escapes, however, another girl is not so lucky. This is just a small instance in the otherwise great story, but I still did not appreciate it. It really did nothing for the plot nor the character development.
(Oh, and before I forget, Beck is "too old" for Mim. We never learn his actual age, but we know that he is a Junior in college... and Mim is 16... So yeah. Nothing other than hugs, leaning on one another, and a chaste kiss on the forehead happens though! Just to be clear. It has great potential to be highly inappropriate, but it stays very tame between them. *whew*)
My overall one-to-five star rating of this book is.........
Even though I saw quite a few negative things in this book, I still enjoyed it! I feel like this book was a great way to kick off celebrating finally getting a chance to dive into my summer reading pile. And if this post wasn't enough, feel free to check out my immediate review on Goodreads RIGHT HERE to see my instant reaction to finishing the book.
So there you have it peoples! My personal breakdown of my most recent adventure... Have any of you lovelies read Mosquitoland already? Tell me what you thought of it! Did my review make you wanna read it for yourself? What do you have on your summer reading pile?? TELL ME ALL!!
Currently Reading: Starbird Murphy & the World Outside by Karen Finneyfrock
Just Finished: Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Listening to: Punk Goes Pop