“Mosquitoland” changes perspective on road trip stories

Baylee, Web Editor

A bottle of pills, an old coffee can, and a shining tube of warpaint. These are just a few things that Mim Malone carries with her as she journeys 947 miles to see her sick mother. “Mosquitoland” by David Arnold follows this quirky and vibrant character as she makes discoveries about herself and the world around her. Along the way, she encounters a variety of people, some good, some bad.

After her parents’ divorce, Mary Iris Malone (Mim for short) moves to Mississippi with her dad and his new wife, whom Mim holds a grudge against. After overhearing a conversation between her principal and her guardians, Mim decides to take a road trip back to her home state of Ohio to see her mother, which she assumes is dying from a chronic illness.

I’m usually not that big of a fan of novels centered around road trips but “Mosquitoland” was a success in my book. Though the story’s plot is quite generic, Arnold’s writing style is super detailed and whimsical. The characters in this novel enhance the plot tremendously. Though the story’s main character, Mim, has some obvious flaws, they’re actually realistic and make her seem all the more like an actual person. She’s very snarky and intolerable of others but learns from these mistakes by the end of the novel. One of her flaws that particularly irked me is her subtle racism. Throughout the novel, she mentions people of many other races and backgrounds and can’t seem to describe them as anything other than the stereotypes that come along with each race.

Mim’s journey is made all the more exciting by the people she meets along the way. She encounters some that aren’t all that great and cause some emotional problems for her later on. She also meets a few others that impact her life dramatically and help her on her journey to see her mom. One of my favorites is the character Walt. Walt is a very colorful character that is obsessed with rubik’s cubes and baseball. He helps Mim grow as a person because their relationship is similar to that of a protective older sister and innocent younger brother. Walt’s positivity and innocence help Mim open up to him, which is a very important aspect of the story.

Arnold also spices the plotline up a bit by adding some mystery pertaining to the status of Mim’s mother and her sickness. Though Mim suspects that her mother is suffering from a chronic illness and she thinks her father and step-mom, Kathy, are keeping Mim away, the truth behind her mother’s absence is a great plot point and took me by surprise.

All in all, “Mosquitoland” was an enjoyable read and made me lessen by distaste for these types of stories a little bit.