Arnold, David. Mosquitoland. Fiction. Viking, 03/2015. 352p. $17.99. 978-0-451-47077-5.
OUTSTANDING. GRADES 9-12.
Recently moved to Mississipi, aka Mosquitoland, with her father and new stepmother, 16-year-old Mim overhears a conversation that suggests her mother is ill, and she embarks on a 947-mile journey to Cleveland, Ohio. Her entertaining odyssey, narrated through a journal and letters, is never straightforward, but “detours are not without purpose.” Her encounters with different characters, both good and evil, give her insight and
perspective on herself, her parents, and stepmother. Mim is a humorous, intelligent, and engaging narrator, although readers may question her use of the words “warpaint” and “Cherokee chieftess.” She defines herself as “a collection of oddities.” It is not clear to the reader—or even to Mim herself—whether she is simply on the far end of quirky or is suffering from genuine psychosis as her father believes. Walt, who has Down’s Syndrome,
and gorgeous Beck, the appealing companions she picks up en route, “get” her, offering Mim an alternative idea of home and family. This original, episodic novel has a slightly hallucinogenic tone that fits perfectly with the nature of a symbolic quest and will appeal to teen readers who enjoy idiosyncratic characters and inventive writing. Review based on an ARC.
Hayley Beale, San Francisco Univ High School