Encounters both dangerous and wonder-filled with fellow travelers prompt 16-year-old runaway Mim to scrutinize her perceptions about herself, her family and the world she inhabits.
Convinced that her father and stepmother are hiding secrets about her mother’s health and also frustrated by her father’s insistence that she take antipsychotic medication, Mim steals an emergency cash fund to travel 1,000 miles to her mother. Aboard the Greyhound bus, Mim’s inner monologues about other passengers reveal her snarky sense of superiority, which is alternately hilarious, cutting and full of bravado. But her self-imposed, disdainful isolation quickly dissolves in the aftermath of a harrowing accident. Completing her journey suddenly necessitates interacting with a motley set of fellow travelers. Mim’s father’s doubts about the stability of her perceptions feed a continual sense of tension as readers (and Mim herself) attempt to evaluate which of Mim’s conclusions about her fellow characters—both the seemingly charming and seemingly menacing—can be trusted. Arnold pens a stunning debut, showcasing a cast of dynamic characters whose individual struggles are real but not always fully explained, a perfect decision for a book whose timeline is brief. Ultimately, Mim revises moments from her own narrative, offering readers tantalizing glimpses of the adult Mim will eventually become and reminding readers that the end of the novel is not the end of Mim’s journey—or her story.
Mesmerizing. (Fiction. 14 & up)