“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.” – Mim Malone
Mosquitoland is a novel about a girl named Mim aka Mary Iris Malone. Mim has had her life uprooted when her parents divorce and she moves from Cleveland to Mississippi with her Father and stepmother against her wishes. When she overhears that her mother, who she hasn’t heard from in three weeks, is sick she immediately decides to go see her herself. She jumps onto a Greyhound bus to do just that but not everything goes as smoothly she planned.
David Arnold’s debut novel is written in a non linear style. The reader is swept along the journey Mim takes and the interesting people she meets along the way. Arnold leaves a trail of breadcrumbs, with a sprinkling of self doubt and flaws for the reader to find and piece together. The novel’s characters are lifelike and three dimensional with their own quirks and imperfections. They, along with the entire plot, pull the reader unsuspectingly in until one is rooting for the underdog.
Peppered with journal entries and letters to Iz aka Izabelle the reader is immersed in the world and mind of Mim as she comes to learn the truth about herself and those in her life. The trip she goes on to find her mother transforms into one of herself both inside and out. Her father is plagued with worry that she will suffer from the same mental issues as some of her relatives and forces her to see doctors and take medication. The main character also has an meaningful item of importance. Mim’s item is a tube of her mother”s favorite lipstick. She uses the lipstick to put “war paint” on her face during special times to transform herself into a braver Mim. On her journey Mim finds an inner strength she didn’t know she had which does not involve lipstick. She also befriends other kindred souls and battles her demons both mentally and physically.
One major theme in this novel is loneliness. Mim feels alone and unconnected to those around her. Through the journey she takes she learns to relate to others such as Walt. An innocent boy with hardships and loss of his own. Also Beck, a young man filled with guilt who is trying to right past wrongs and keep a promise. They unite as a group of misfits to help each other on the paths to their true selves, being comfortable in your own skin and truth itself.
This novel is recommended for young adult and teen readers to adult readers. Just like real life can contain crude language and questionable actions so does this novel. It does not sugar coat things or hide behind proprietary masks. Mosquitoland shows that sometimes things are not ok and that’s life. However, things are always ok in the end and if it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.
David Arnold lives in Lexington, Kentucky with his wife and son. Mosquitoland is his first novel published March 3rd 2015. His second novel KIDS OF APPETITE is to be released in fall 2016. Mosquitoland also has a book trailer: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2s8CjoO-8pU
Arnold has also written music inspired by both his novels which can be found here: http://cinemacycle.bandcamp.com/
His website is: http://davidarnoldbooks.com/