David Arnold’s Mosquitoland has sat on my shelf for the last year. It is one of those books I was certain I’d like, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading it yet. I was right, I liked it, but it was quirkier, and more relatable than I thought it would be for a YA book. I read it in just one sitting, as I wanted to see what would happen to the indomitable Mim Malone.
Essentially, this is a female hero quest: Mim ditches school and takes a greyhound to go visit her sick mother. All the basic hero quest things occur: she runs into trouble, finds helpers, and eventually arrives at her destination, where she learns something about herself and the world. Mim, as a protagonist is a bit of a mess, but she’s a good kid with good intentions and you root for her throughout the story.
This is the kind of book to buy for your students or for a niece or nephew (or your own kids). Here are some favorite passages:
- “I’m feeling reckless – or honest, maybe. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference.”
- “There are times when talking just pushes out the tears. So I float in silence, watching the final touches of this perfect moonrise, and in a moment of heavenly revelation, it occurs to me that detours are not without purpose. They provide safe passage to a destination, avoiding pitfalls in the process.”
- “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.”