Thursday, April 11, 2019

In The Spotlight ~ Book Review of Mosquitoland From A Youth

Hi and welcome to our Thursday segment.

This is a very special post because my daughter, Jordy, is doing a book review. We do many of these on the blog, as you all know, but this one is special. Not just because my kid is doing it but more because she is reviewing a book for youth as a youth on some very heavy subjects and she does it with openness, honesty, and respect.

I am so proud.

Without further ado, here is her review. I strongly recommend this book, by the way.


“I am Mary Iris Malone, and I am not okay.”

Loneliness. It’s one of the hardest human emotions that anyone can be put through. For protagonist Mim Malone, it is a feeling she has never had the feeling to shake. Author David Arnold’s novel, Mosquitoland, depicts that hardship through Mim’s thousand-mile journey to relate to others through being the hero in her own story.

Mary Iris Malone, who prefers Mim, isn't like other teenage girls. She is one who has struggled with her internal struggles of anxiety, depression, and possible psychosis since a very young age. This is all worsened when Mim’s parents split up and move far from each other. Before she knows it, her entire life disintegrates in Ohio, and she is forced to move in with her dad and stepmom in the wasteland of Mississippi. Before she gets a chance to settle, she finds out that her mother in Ohio appears to be not okay. This is the last straw for Mim. Nabbing a wad of saved cash from her stepmom, Mim ditched the ‘wastelands’ to embark on a long journey back to the one person who gets her. Without spoiling the main ideas, I will say that she endures a great load of hardships and unexpected turns along the way, from events and people alike, which all open her eyes to truths and qualities she had not noticed before.

An unreliable source, such as the first person narrative of a person who may or may not be
suffering from psychosis, can be a challenging point of view to maintain without confusing the intended audience. Arnold, though, makes it work well in his story. Mim comes alive through her so-called flaws and mishaps, bringing ups and downs that leaves a reader stuck to the pages. He also excellently covers the themes of mental illness and overcoming loneliness through two different voices that are conveyed in the chapters that are Mim’s letters, and her first-person narrative. The way that he writes to include her weaknesses alongside her strengths gives the story a deeper meaning, one that is more accurate to the real world.

The only criticism that I feel that I am able to fairly give Arnold, is the bit of misconception from Mim of the Cherokee people. Though the touch of culture appropriation through her ‘war paint’ routine was intended by Arnold to strengthen Mim’s voice, it is still may be a tad offensive for the inclusive mindset encouraged in this day and age. As well as the exploration of many challenging subjects throughout the plot, including psychosis, sexual assault, divorce, depression, suicide, intellectual disability, and, of course, friendship and first love. There are some really intense scenes too explicit for some readers, from fist fights to a deadly bus crash, finally, to a child molester who attacks two teen girls.

Despite those very minor details, this is an ideal pick for any teen readers who appreciate well-written stories about self-discovery. I truly believe that readers everywhere will be able to relate to this young adult novel. Whether they suffer from mental illness themselves or not, I can guarantee that Mim and her acquired companions will be unforgettable characters that will change their life.

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