Wow. Wow. Wow. I’m so excited to be writing this review today because this book was so amazing, and I’m so excited to talk about it. What a great way to end this week in blogging!
Mim, Mary Iris Malone, is a 16 (I’m pretty sure she’s 16?)-year-old girl who has just been moved by her father from her hometown in Northern Ohio to a small town in Mississippi – Mosquitoland – after her parents’ divorce. She’s not adjusting well to the change, is angry about her mental illness, is angry about being forced to leave the house she grew up in, and is angry at her new step mother and father for keeping her away from her mother and her mother’s new mysterious illness. On a whim, Mim steals some money, buys a bus ticket, and takes off to Cleveland, Ohio to find her mother and a sort of redemption. She meets many great personalities along the way that add even more to her adventure. Will she make it to her mom? What will this solo road trip teach Mim about who she wants to be and who she is? Tag along and find out!
Road trips must be the theme of the week. I’m a sucker for a road trip story. So, hmm, where to start?
I suppose I’ll start with the writing. I was excessively impressed and increasingly moved by Arnold’s writing. This is his debut novel and it read like an experienced writer’s 3rd or 4th novel. I read quite a few reviews where readers said that Arnold was a John Green wannabe and that this book was incredibly reminiscent of TFIOS. But, I didn’t feel that way. I honestly didn’t connect the two at all. I thought Arnold weaved a compelling story that was all his own. He wrote from the heart, he created a story that really hit me hard. His writing was relatable even if his characters weren’t directly relatable to me.
Arnold creates multi-dimensional characters that I absolutely fell in love with, especially Mim. She is not a perfect character and often acts selfishly in ways that will only benefit herself, but this is part of who she is as well as part of her journey. She is flawed. She is not perfect. She has made many mistakes and she takes credit for those mistakes. At the same time, she is trying to do what she feels is right, even if it’s all a complete jumble of shades of good and evil and she is still discovering what these shades in the world mean for her. The other characters are just as complex as her. Everyone has their own personality and each one of those personalities shine to create a realistic-feeling piece of fiction that we, as readers, can apply in some way, shape, or form to our own lives.
I don’t normally add quotes to my posts, but I’m going to insert one of my favorite quotes here:
“Every great character…be it on page or screen, is multidimensional. The good guys aren’t all good, the bad guys aren’t all bad, and any character wholly one or the other shouldn’t exist at all. Remember this when I describe the antics that follow, for though I am not a villain, I am not immune to villainy.”
Mim is a strong girl who knows who she is and is slowly, but surely figuring out what she expects from and wants her life to be. This is a universal issue that we can all relate to. She is not the only one trying to figure out her life, but every character, even the adults, are trying to figure out their place in the world and how to cope with finding that place, getting to that place, and where they are currently while planning for that place. This makes this novel universally readable by just about anyone who loves grand adventures.
Another thing that I love about this book is that Arnold doesn’t hold back on topics that other authors are scared to attempt to write about. One of these is mental illness. There is a great deal of mental illness written into this book. I find this realistic, since mental illness is such a prominent issue in society that we, as a community, are just starting to fully understand and be able to treat. Arnold doesn’t shame mental illness nor does he make it some otherworldly thing that is mysterious and untouchable. He makes it real – here and now – and something that many people constantly have to live with.
Arnold also writes about disabilities in excess. He in no way shames any of the disabilities that he writes about and let’s, especially prominent character, have their own personalities, characters, and character development. I think this is very important that Arnold was not afraid or ashamed to include these topics in his book.
Arnold’s characters feel real. They feel tangible. They feel as if you’re reading about a neighbor, a distant relative, or a close friend.
I do have to say, I did find many of the situations that Mim gets herself into completely unbelievable, but, unlike Let’s Get Lost, I was able to look past these adventures that I’m sure a normal girl Mim’s age would never find herself on (But, let’s face it, Mim isn’t a normal girl.), and the only reason I was able to look past these in this book is because I felt Arnold’s story so deeply. His writing made me believe that these things were plausible, that Mim’s story could actually happen. His writing is so raw and so real that I found it easy to believe the crazy situations he brings to life.
One final thing I want to say before I wrap up this review is all those references tho. I was loving every single reference that Arnold made. It’s like this book was written just for me, which was a great reading experience. The Pop Culture of this book was so spot on, and I loved how it all contributed to Mim’s character. Each reference sparked something in her and usually spurred a story or increased the meaning of a story for her. I absolutely adored the Pop Culture. AHHHH. (Excuse me for a moment while I Fangirl.)
Okay, I’m done. Chill. I’m totally chill. One final comment before I leave for the weekend. I totally loved the feminist quality this book had. It was great. Arnold called out a bunch of issues. I loved it. Fantastic work Mr. Arnold. (Okay, I’m sorry, but like his name totally just makes me think of Jurassic Park – which is coincidentally one of the bigger references in this book. Is this intentional Mr. Arnold? Is it?)
So anyway. I would recommend this book to literally anyone and everyone. It’s a great story and a fun adventure that teaches us lessons about life. I especially recommend this book to young adult and adventure lovers as well as you realistic fiction readers. This is a great read and deserves every ounce of hype it’s been receiving – and much, much more.
Have a great weekend everyone! I’ll be back on Sunday.
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