I was extremely fortunate to have met and hung out with (!!!) David Arnold and Adam Silvera last night. David was in town on tour for his latest release, Kids of Appetite, which sounds AMAZING. I can’t wait to dive into my copy (signed, with the best inscription ever):
I wrote this review for Mosquitoland earlier, but held off posting since I knew his event was coming up. The room was full of writers and we spent the time talking about the writing process. I loved that David and Adam had different preferences, showing how there’s no “right” way to write.
And I resonated a lot with David’s process. Before, I felt like I was the odd one out in my preferences (thriving in my pajamas and writing full-time, starting with a character and seeing where he/she took me) and hearing that this very successful author I admire was similar was so comforting. He inspired me to embrace my process for what it is. As Adam said last night, “eyes on your own paper.”
David and Adam are so humble, down-to-earth, and kind. They truly love writing and books and authors. When I told David my editor used Mosquitoland as a comp (which still blows my mind), he said he’s still getting used to that.
I’m so grateful to be a part of this amazing community and I still can’t wrap my head around it sometimes.
Now onto my glowing review (which was not influenced by how awesome David is in person).
Written by David Arnold
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
This book made me feel all the feels. It was poignant and powerful, and Mim was so likeable, relatable, and real. I read so many passages out loud to my husband because the language was beautiful and the emotions so raw. He mostly reads nonfiction but he couldn’t get enough of Mim’s voice or the writing.
And her voice. Goodness, it was unique. Mim was rude and judgmental and harsh, and she was somehow so likable because of it. She said what everyone else thinks but doesn’t say because they’re aware of societal decency. Mim’s voice and Hawthorne’s in Chelsea Sedoti’s The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett are my favorites. Mim made me laugh so much. Just a few examples (which were very hard to choose because there were just so many great lines):
…his many framed degrees assured everyone that he was an actual doctor, and not, as I feared, a professional clown.
On the first of what would turn out to be just under a hundred visits to Dr. Makundi’s office, I walked right up to that giant brown grizzly and touched its claw. I was eleven at the time, and it was a bear, so really, I had no choice. (I mean. It was a bear. A bear.)
I picked up the ink splotches and leafed through them one-by-one. “Penis, penis, penis…Wow is that a labia?”…I slapped the cards down on the desk, then held up both middle fingers. “Tell me what you see here, Doc.”
After exactly thirty-two rings (yes, I count, and yes, I wait that long, because really, once it passes ten rings it becomes a game of How Many Rings Can We Get to Before Someone Finally Picks Up the Gee-Dee Telephone)
Not dead. Not abducted. (Though aliens are, as always, welcome.) You’ll hear from me when you hear from me.
“Exactly why I don’t have a boyfriend,” I whisper.
Because you’ve referenced The Lord of The Rings twice before lunch, or because you’re talking to yourself?
I have to admit, I’ve got me there.
There are just too many quotes to type up because the writing was so beautiful and so unique. The word choices and Mim’s overly snarky voice was what made this book.
The romance was beautifully done. I wanted Mim and Beck to be together so bad, but I also understood the obstacles in their way. I felt how star-crossed they were. Yet they were so meant to be. They totally got each other, spoke without speaking. I think Mim said it best herself:
All my life, I’ve been searching for my people, and all my life, I’ve come up empty. At some point, and I don’t know when, I accepted isolation. I curled into a ball and settled for a life of observations and theories, which really isn’t a life at all. But if moments of connection with another human being are so patently rare, how is it I’ve connected so quickly, so deeply with Beck and Walt? How is it possible I’ve forged deeper relationships with them in two or three days than I ever did with anyone else in sixteen years prior? You spend your life roaming the hillsides, scouring the four corners of the earth, searching desperately for just one person to f—— get you. And I’m thinking, if you can find that, you’ve found home.
I love the different structure this book had as well. We had the main narrative, the present, of Mim traveling to get to her mother in Cleveland, but it was interspersed with letters to Isabel and flashbacks that showed us so much of Mim and her past without telling us any of it. At first the order was seemingly random, but after reading a paragraph or two, it became obvious exactly why this particular piece was placed where it was and how it was intricately connected to what had come before it. It was a gorgeous way of giving the reader more, fleshing out the story fully, using different mediums to give us the full picture.
Mim also would constantly bring up phrases or stories that we had previously heard, making the reader feel as if they were “in” on the joke. This is one of my favorite things in a book, and something I try extremely hard to do in my own writing.
Each character and scenario served a purpose but was weaved in seamlessly. I loved that Mim was scared of Caleb because of their similarities and mental issues but she could also see the differences between them (no further details to prevent spoilers).
The end was spectacular. The last quarter was revelation after revelation, gut wrenching emotion followed by more emotion. So many things came together in unpredictable ways and everything started making so much sense, things getting filled in even though you never realized that there were pieces missing. And it wrapped up so wonderfully, as satisfyingly as it could. The character arc that Mim makes is so clear and admirable you can’t help but feel happy for her.
The book left me feeling emotionally spent yet full—a combination I haven’t felt before at the end of a book, and one that I’m sure I’ll be searching for in the future. I’m sad to have to say good-bye to Mim and Beck (oh, Beck), but I’m happy that their story wrapped up where it did—full of hope and an open, bright future. I want to know more yet I don’t. I want to remember it just as is.