Today is review day, dear bookworms! I hope you are all okay and in the right mood to hear me bein a bit critical about this book.
Some of the people I know really liked it, but… well, I will let my review talk for it. I’m probably going to read the other book by the author hoped that he worked out some of the issue I noticed in Mosquitoland.
TW: ableism, sexaul assault, fatphobia, anti-Native
Author: David Arnold
Publisher: Viking Books
Rating: ★★ 1/2
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.
After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.
So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.
Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, Mosquitoland is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.
Well, let me start with: I don’t know how I’m going to write this review. There’s so many to unpack here and a lot to call out.
My first impression was good. I liked Mim and I still kind do. She’s a teen and she show it. She’s messy, she does some sh*t and sometimes she not exactly what I would define an adorable person. She wants to understand things, find her own way and reconstruct her own family.
Her travel is strange and surreal, long and particular, dark and sad. Many and many themes get handled in this book and it’s a place with happiness. Definitely not.
I finished this book with a bitter-sweet taste. It left me conflicted and not in good way. Mim goes through a lot. She make hard decision. She goes out seeking for the truth. And despite that I don’t think that the end of this novel close something for her. Not really. All the people she met, all the things she face… the future is still there. And it’s big, vast, unknown.
A theme that was near to me was Mim relationship with her parents, the way in which maybe people used on her medication that were not needed. A parents that force un-needed medication on a child is still abuse and while a little part of me could get Mim’s feels, there’s need to acknowledge that there’s quite a lot of ableism in this novel.
Let me start with that. In this novel there’s a huge discussion about mental illness, parents’ view on that, and medications. And… at the end of the book I had a moment in which I was undecided between smile nervously or take Mim out of the book and give a huge talk. Now, despite me not talking about many of what pass through my head… let’s just say that the novel touch me personally and it was totally a really bad take to refer to a depressed person a shell. Or even say that people who rely on medication for their condition live a sad life. What about no?
The discussion of meds related to mental illness is a vast one, also because sometime people can need or not medications, this changing with their personal condition. But the stigma around mental illness is vast too, and having these kind of considerations in the closing pages of the novel… Again, what about no? I think that Mim decision about her own condition, existing or not existing (since the book is foggy about that), along with those lines were definitely not the best decision.Maybe it was a good end for her, but could have been handled better.
And don’t let me talk about the decision to bring a disabled person to a vet. Like, was that even plot needed? Because it wasn’t that much. Definitely the author could have found better solutions.
Another theme in this book was about sexual assault and I read some reviews by people who also experienced such event, and I can totally understand when they come from. While at the same time I could see truth in the way people reacted to the event, from survivor guilt, post traumatic experience, deciding that no one would believe you even if you denounce the even to the police. So, again something that gave totally not so good vibes.
Other stuff that really rubbed me wrong was the way in which Mim used to describe fat people, using always derogatory terms. Plus the book went on with messy stuff when Mim’s native heritage is touched. Now, I followed and read some post and articled written by Natives and those (at least three I think) pages spent by Mim on ranting about how she was authorized to claim her native heritage, well, I don’t think that’s how it works. There are a lot of cultural, social and historical issue about Native and this books has definitely anti-Native stuff in it. There’s an interesting post you can find here and talk of the issue in more competent way than me.
Mostquitoland is messy, but could have been worse. I mean, it has some interesting discussion and I followed Mim, her feeling so special and unique (something I might have felt at her age too). The narration was definitely strange and a bit out of character for a teen. It was definitely wrote on a more adult perspective, with a lot of reference that I’ve hardly seen in the mouth of a teen. Unless they’re really passionate about music and films. Still, I found fascinating how the narration went and in a way or another I felt compelled to read on.
Anyway, with problematic and such, the book still manage to somehow work on some interesting topics, despite in the end not managing its best without putting dow someone else. It’s like there’s only one side of this story, where the travel, what happened and especially Mim’s own decision about her life, are something that suits here, that is okay only for her (because that her story), but still bring with it the idea, or affirmations that there aren’t other ways.
This book was trying to bring something that left me pending in one side and another. One where I could not help to shake my head and another that made me participant of the story. With this novel I’m probably destined to remain in a “yes and no” mood, indecisive to say if Mim’s story has some worth for me or the bad things where so major to obliterate some good I felt.
HAVE YOU READ MOSTQUITOLAND? WHAT DO YOU THINK? DO YOU KNOW ANY OTHER TRAVEL BOOK THAT TALKS ABOUT THE SAME TOPICS?