Friday, February 03, 2017

Mosquitoland, by David Arnold

Mim misses her mother and when she finds out that her father and stepmother are apparently keeping them apart on purpose, Mim decides to bolt.  Stealing a stash of money from her stepmother, she hops on a Greyhound bus in Mississippi and heads 950 miles to Cleveland.  Along the way, she befriends a motley crew of companions and has adventures.

As tired as that plot is, what rescues this novel is its unusual heroine.  She’s schizophrenic, blind in one eye, and prone to uncontrolled and sudden nausea.  And the people she befriends are similarly quirky.  It's the crazy personalities that make this story work.
Arnold’s debut novel is a fascinating and original work, written with all the color and grit of a hipster creating the Great American Novel.  The dialog is fast and witty, but there’s not much emotional introspection (since Mim tends to barf whenever the going gets emotional).  Instead, there's a lot of philosophical navel-gazing.  It’s a little too self-aware of its pretensions and falls more into the adult-literature-about-teens category than actual YA, but kids will find it enjoyable nonetheless.

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