Mosquitoland

by David Arnold
First sentence: “I am Mary Iris Malone, and I am not okay.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Release date: March 3, 2015
Review copy handed to me by the publisher rep.
Content: There’s a whole lot of language, both mild and strong. There’s some creepy characters, including a serial rapist, but nothing is graphic. It’ll be in the teen section (grades 9+) of the bookstore.

Mary Iris Malone, Mim to everyone but her mother, is not happy. Her father, in a whirlwind, divorced her mother — who then disappeared — married the waitress at the local Denny’s, then relocated the three of them — Mim had no choice — to the middle of nowhere, Mississippi.

This does not sit well with Mim, who just wants her mother back, her old life back, her home back. So, when she’s called to the principal’s office and overhears her dad and Kathy talking about Mim’s mom with the principal, she snaps. She takes off from school, packs a backpack, grab’s Kathy’s coffee can stash of money, and heads to the Greyhound bus station. She’s headed back to Ohio this Labor Day weekend to see her mother, come hell or high water.

It’s not as easy as it sounds; there’s perils in them thar woods, and Mim is in for one of those life-changing adventures. There are some creepy people on the road, but she makes friends, both causal and the best-friend-types. And she discovers that maybe humanity — and Kathy — aren’t as bad as she’s always made them out to be.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Seriously. It started out slow and kind of awkward; Mim is a tough shell to crack and a prickly one at the beginning. But the more time I spent with her, the more I grew to love her. The more she revealed about her family and her life, the more I enjoyed spending time with her. And her adventures were fantastic. The people she met were fascinating and quirky, and I wanted to go on more adventures with them. I was almost sad when the book ended because I wouldn’t be spending more time with Mim and her friends.

I’m not sure this is a book for everyone. But for those who love good road trip adventures, and quirky characters, it’s a gem.

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