4-star · Book Reviews

Book Review: Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Title: Mosquitoland
Author: David Arnold
PubDate: Mar 3, 2015

“Life, it seems, delivers the best punch lines only after we’ve forgotten we were part of a joke.”

I honestly thought of putting this down after a few chapters but somewhere along after those chapters, I started loving it. Mim’s writing to Iz, her putting on war paint, her meeting new/strange/different kinds of people and everything else, I started to get them. It’s like after contemplating whether I can relate to her or not, I finally did. Between the writing and adventure and meeting new people, something inside me just connected to her. And I know she’s a little weird and odd and a teenager with one blind eye because of the Great Blinding Eclipse and her dad believes that there’s something wrong inside her brain because she talks to herself but come on, everyone talks to himself. Don’t you? And don’t lie! And because A Thing’s Not a Thing until You Say It Out Loud. So I say it, She is Mary Iris Malone and and I get her.

Mary Iris Malone, or simply Mim, is determined to get to Cleveland, to her mother, before Labor Day weekend after overhearing a conversation that her mother is sick. Mim, now convinced that her dad and stepmother, Kathy, are keeping her away from her mom for whatever reason, decides to set off alone to Cleveland. She’s so committed on getting to her mom that she hops aboard Greyhound bus with only Reasons, a bag pack full of, at least, three-day worth of necessities, her mom’s lipstick and a coffee can with Kathy’s money and letters. And on this bus is where Mim’s journey begins.

Mim meets new and different people along the way. A sweet lady like our Dear Old Arlene with her wooden box, a perv like Poncho Man, a someone like Carl-the-bus-driver who is more than what we thought they could be, a handsome new face with a camera, a homeless-harmless new bestfriend like Walt with his rubik’s cube, another someone with bad intentions like Caleb, a few good ones like Ahab and his boyfriend and some more other. And then there’s Beck-the-handsome-new-face-with-a-camera, again. Beck-the-guy-who-is-to-old-for-Mim-for-now-Van Buren. And I honestly loved all the people Mim had met on this journey to her mom because they all each taught her something, if not everything.

It’s a really good story of discovering new things/people, realizing that there is a bigger world around us with different kinds of people that might or might not teach us a thing or two. It’s a story of opening up to the world we thought would never understand us and it’s a punch on the face to realize that there are actually people who care and understand and get what we say and don’t say and they even understand what we feel even though we don’t show it.

“Maybe sometimes we just need someone to tell us that we’re okay. Or we will be, at least. And I think of all the times I thought I wasn’t okay, and all the times maybe I could have been, if only I’d had a Beck Van Buren around to tell me otherwise.”

Becoming friends with Walt and Beck was fate, I guess. Because what Mim really needed were people to show her that she can trust them. That they will be there for her and not to leave without a liquid goodbye. I also loved Beck because he felt real and he was kind and sweet and everything!


At the end of her journey, when Mim reaches Cleveland (947 Miles from Mosquitoland) when she finally meets her mom and when everything finally sinks into her, she realizes that she should’ve at least considered all the sides of the story. Like her dad’s and Kathy’s sides. That she should’ve understood where his dad was coming from with all those medicine and why Beck wanted to see her foster sister again. They care, that’s why. And she should’ve thought that Walt needs to find his home, too. Just like she did.

Overall it was a really good book. Four-shiny-stars! I’m not sure why I’m not giving it 5 but I guess that’s just it. I loved it and Mary Iris Malone is going to be okay.

Now let’s get to my favorite part.

I met a boy. And he is, like, so totally hott. And stuff. Laugh out loud. – Mim

Of course it was sad to find out that Beck and Walt had to leave (that was the part where I cried) but I understand why they had to. And somehow thinking that Beck cares enough for Walt to help him find his mom is enough for me to officially fall for him. And hey, hey, they told Mim to meet them at the next baseball game, right? At their rendezvouski. So it’s another chance and maybe by then, Beck is not that old for Mim anymore.

Beck holds me like that on the floor well into the night. We don’t talk. We don’t need to. Sleep is close, and I’m okay with that. Because among the not-knowing of sleep, I’ll know Beck. At some point, he carries me to bed and lies down next to me. It isn’t weird, though maybe it should be; it isn’t wrong, though it definitely could be. I curl up next to him, put my head on his shoulder. He wraps an arm around me, and I swear we were once a single unit, a supercontinent millions of years ago—like my fifth-grade science project—now reunited into some kaleidoscopic New Pangaea.
“I’m Madagascar,” I say, sleepily.
“You’re what?”
“I’m Madagascar. And you’re Africa.”
He squeezes my shoulder, and—I think he gets it. I bet he does.
And that’s when I know what this is. Or rather, what it’s not. I remember our conversation from last night, out under the stars, in the back of Uncle Phil, and I know. “This isn’t a crush, you know.” I say it with my head in his arm—I want him to physically feel my words
“I know,” he says.
“It isn’t.”
“I know.”
Tell him, Mary.
It’s deep and real and fucking old-school. It’s a fortress of passion, a crash—a fatal collision of neurons and electrons and fibers, my circus of oddities coming together as one, imploding in a fiery blaze. It’s . . . I-don’t-know-what . . . my collection of shiny.
It’s love.

Signing off, Me who liked this book.


3 thoughts on “Book Review: Mosquitoland by David Arnold

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