Months after her parents split, Mary Iris Malone (Mim) has had enough. After learning that her mother is sick, Mim steals $800 from her stepmom – a woman Mim considers the equivalent of Hitler or Satan – and embarks on a journey via a Greyhound bus to reunite with her real family.
Running into various people – some gut-wrenchingly foul, others so heartwarming and lovable you wish they were standing in front of you – Mim uncovers too many secrets to count and gets a little help from green-eyed, attractive college student Beck and a boy with Down syndrome, Walt, who just might steal your heart. She's vulnerable, witty, slightly cynical, a perfect image of Ellen Page in "Juno," and she's in trouble.
Mim's mental stability is iffy at best, and it's clear that psychological problems run in the family. However, it's the narrative that Mim provides – her realistic, life-is-not-sunshine-and-rainbows attitude that draws readers into her adventure. Not only is Mim hilarious, but she can also deliver a quote that you just might want to get a tattoo of because it's so brilliant.
Here are just a few examples:
“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. It sounds strange because it is, and it is because I am strange.”
“I swear the older I get, the more I value bad examples over good ones. It's a good thing too because most people are egotistical, neurotic, self-absorbed peons, insistent on wearing near-sighted glasses in a far-sighted world. And it's this exact sort of myopic ignorance that has led to my groundbreaking new theory. I call it Mim's Theorem of Monkey See Monkey Don't, and what it boils down to is this: it is my belief that there are some people whose sole purpose of existence is to show the rest of how not to act.”
And my personal favorite:
“I'm feeling reckless - or honest, maybe. Sometimes, it's hard to tell the difference.”
These words of wisdom don't stop at the three you see above. David Arnold has accomplished a magnificent feat with "Mosquitoland." He's given the overdone young-adult tragic romance genre a depth and darkness that somehow feels more realistic than the usual YA novel.
"Mosquitoland" is unusual, eccentric, refreshingly sarcastic and will have you questioning things you may not have thought about in a while. I'm usually not a huge fan of young-adult books, but I have to say, Arnold has accomplished a great feat with Mary Iris Malone.