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'Mosquitoland,' a new YA book, gets rave reviews

'Mosquitoland' is the debut work by writer David Arnold.

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    'Mosquitoland' is by David Arnold.
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Author David Arnold is receiving some rave reviews for his debut young adult book book, “Mosquitoland.”

“Mosquitoland,” which is billed as being for readers ages 12 to 17, centers on Mim Malone, who moves to Mississippi with her father and stepmother but soon travels back to Ohio to see her mother, meeting various interesting characters during her journey. 

USA Today critic Brian Truitt gave the book four stars, calling it “irresistible.” 

Recommended: 100 of the best children's books

“Heartwarming, heartbreaking, and hilarious, but always maintaining a distinctly innocent brilliance,” Truitt wrote. “Arnold proves his worth as a top-notch storyteller… he has a gift for giving nuance to the ordinary… The author distinguishes himself in the young-adult landscape through the opinionated and obsessively individualistic Mim.”

And Mary Quattlebaum of the Washington Post named it among the best new children's books, writing of the title, “Readers will take this straight-talking ‘Mistress of Moxie’ to their hearts… David Arnold combines brio with compassion in this captivating first novel, which holds surprises, big and small, right to the end. Welcome to the road too little traveled by females in realistic YA fiction.”

Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews both gave “Mosquitoland” starred reviews, with PW calling it “wholly enjoyable… a delightfully eclectic cast of characters, who are made all the more memorable by Mim’s descriptions… There is no shortage of humor in Mim’s musings, interspersed with tender scenes and a few heart-pounding surprises. Mim’s triumphant evolution is well worth the journey.” KR wrote that “Mim’s inner monologues [are] hilarious, cutting and full of bravado… Arnold pens a stunning debut, showcasing a cast of dynamic characters whose individual struggles are real but not always fully explained, a perfect decision… mesmerizing.”

However, Angie Manfredi of New Mexico’s Alamos County Library wrote for School Library Journal that “debut author Arnold's book is filled with some incredible moments of insight. The protagonist is a hard-edged narrator with a distinct voice. There is a lot for teens to admire and even savor-but there are also some deeply problematic elements.” Manfredi counted among these Mim’s habit of using lipstick to create what she calls “war paint" and the book's depiction of a character with Down syndrome, which she called "stock."

“Mosquitoland” was released on March 3.

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