Mosquitoland: An Anomaly of a Novel


Katianna Mansfield, Staff Writer

A thing is not a thing until you say it out loud. An honest person who knows who they are is a gift to this world, so be honest and be who you are. Live your life, breathe your air, eat your food, button your pants.

Vague, passive aggressive life lessons from the pen of a misunderstood teenage girl are entirely relatable and accurate, and for once I have actually considered its themes influential on my personality.

I am Katianna Natasha Mansfield, and I am in love with Mosquitoland.

Until this last year, I had despised any form of first person writing. Only having experienced the awful side of it, I would pick up a book, look at the first page, and if it had the words “I,” “me,” or “my” in it, I would put it right back down.

It wasn’t until I had to write in first person myself that I developed more of an appreciation for it. While I’m still critical beyond belief, it is now possible for me to find one I truly enjoy.

Mosquitoland, written only in first person, made my whole perspective change.

I am nothing like Mary “Mim” Iris Malone, but her attitude and conception of herself provides hope for others, like me, who wish they were just as intuitive and comfortable in the world.

Mim understands the most complex aspects of society in their most basic form, making the wisest of words seem comprehensible to the untrained eye. Her description of humanity is eye-opening; concepts that words could never bring meaning to explained in a minimal array of phrases, never seeming to have the intent of persuasion but a powerful influence nonetheless.

My absolute favorite section of this book was Mim’s amendments to her previously written letters. Writing to her Aunt Isabel over a period of three days, Mim expresses her opinions and beliefs in detailed letter after letter giving her reasons for running away. However, towards the finale of her journey, she writes a letter specifically to amend the others in which her judgments had changed since she’d written them. This part may seem strange to other readers as her letters were written, at most, two days ago, but it spoke on a soulfully resonant level with me.

The idea that one is allowed to “make amendments” to themselves is one I had never considered before. I always imagined people were supposed to stay the same, change a little bit, but continue on with the same morals and ethics that they obtain. Society isn’t allowed to change its values, we are uniform. Knowledge is supposed to stay there once it is absorbed, concepts learned should always maintain the same level of applicability as they previously had.

To Mim, that is not so. Within a period of days she changes her mind multiple times on the daily intricacies she used to hold dearly in her belief system. She holds conviction in ideals that are important to her until she can no longer do so justifiably. This resounds with me so perfectly, as a single moment in my life can redefine every notion of understanding I’ve ever experienced. I can change my beliefs because they are not always going to be relevant. I am going to experience more in my years on this earth, just as Mim did in a mere weekend.

Life lessons and personal connection aside, Mosquitoland’s immense intuition and microscopic analyzing of the complexity a teenage girl’s life can contain was spot on. And surprisingly so, as the novel was written by a middle-aged male whom I would have not the slightest implication from of an all-knowing perception.

With convoluted metaphors, sarcastic digs, real issues being confronted, and plot twists that were actually unexpected, this novel immediately makes my top five list.

It is the Madagascar to my Africa, my own personal Great Blinding Eclipse, to which I can only provide with the most liquid of goodbyes:

remember the rendezvouski.