Road trip novels fascinate me. There’s something about a story that moves from place to place that makes it fun to read. Mosquitoland, the debut novel of David Arnold, is one such book.

Mary Iris Malone, or Mim, is the sixteen-year-old narrator. After learning her biological mother is ill, she steals money from her dad and stepmom, packs a bag and heads to Cleveland, Ohio from Mississippi. During her journey, she meets unique people and has experiences that make her flash back to several incidents from her dysfunctional childhood. It’s these experiences that force her to face her inner demons.

Several times throughout the book, Mim says “My name is Mary Iris Malone, and I am not okay.” I really liked that Arnold chose to contradict the all too common responses, “I’m okay,” and “I’m fine,” that people say when asked how they are. Mim openly admits that she is not okay when something reminds her of her past. It’s safe to assume that she has a mental illness, which I really liked, because it made her character much more realistic and relatable. Arnold’s choice to integrate mental illness into the plot is an example of breaking the stigma associated with this issue.

I did enjoy the themes of this book, but I felt like there were some scenes that went on for a bit too long. I found myself wanting to skip pages every now and then just to see what happened next to Mim. I do look forward to reading more of David Arnold’s material.

 

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