Saturday, April 2, 2016

MOSQUITOLAND by David Arnold

A choice of breakfast at Denny's or breakfast at Friendly's changed the course of Mary "Mim" Iris Malone's life.  If she had chosen Friendly's instead of Denny's, her father would not have met Kathy the waitress, and her parents might not have gotten a divorce.  Mim definitely wouldn't have been uprooted from Cleveland and moved all the way to Mississippi where her only contact with her mother came through letters that mysteriously stopped weeks ago.

Waiting outside the principal's office while her father and step-mother talk about her latest transgression, Mim overhears that her mother is sick.  Considering the fact that over the last several weeks, Mim's mother's fairly regular letters from Cleveland have stopped, Mim panics.  Leaving her current legal guardians in conversation with the principal, Mim heads for home where she packs her backpack and steals the Hills Bros. coffee can with roughly $800 of her step-mother's savings and then boards a Greyhound bound for Cleveland.

Labor Day holds significant memories for Mim, and her mother is a pivotal part of those memories.  Getting to her becomes the major focus of Mim's life.  She'll do whatever it takes to travel the 947 miles from Mississippi to Cleveland.  Ignoring the almost constant ringtone of her step-mother's phone calls, Mim finds a seat on the bus and settles in for a two day ride.

What follows is a unique adventure.  Mim encounters a quirky assortment of characters both good and bad as she ventures northward.  When she is not writing revealing letters in her journal, she visits with a woman named Arlene, gets to know the bus driver Carl, and succeeds in creating a devastating and disgusting flood when she accidently clogs up the toilet in the back of the bus. 

Mim's travels take her not only to new geographical places, but also to new locations in her mind.  She makes discoveries about herself and her family that explain much of what has made her who she is today.  Her journey isn't an easy one, but the physical and emotional difficulties may very well pave the way for her future happiness and fulfillment.

MOSQUITOLAND by David Arnold is a fascinating read full of humor, pain, family, and friendship.  Arnold's characters are memorable, his dialogue crisp, and his storyline riveting. 

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