8 Literary Characters to Bring With You On a Life-Changing Roadtrip*
*plus three not-really-YA-but-seriously-good characters all the same
by David Arnold, author of Mosquitoland
Ed. Note: Summer is the season for hopping in the car and heading to whatever destination you choose, but who do you take along? We asked road trip novel MOSQUITOLAND author David Arnold to put together the optimal lineup of literary characters to bring on a life-changing roadtrip!
Consider the hijinks! The conversation! The tears of laughter and joy! And the metaphors, my God, the metaphors! Without further ado, here is my fiction expedition, my Winnebago Dream Team. (Yeah. A Winnebago. What can I say. This ain’t your grandmother’s road trip. [Unless your grandmother drives a Winnebago, in which case it’s pretty much the same thing.]
1. Frankie Landau-Banks from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
When tasked with this post, this was the very first character I thought of. Our Winnebago operates outside the panopticon, off-grid, rumbling along into the great, wide unknown, boldly traveling where few have gone before. As such, I’m fairly certain Frankie is at the wheel.
2. Simon Spier from Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
– Quick! Our road trip requires insane amounts of Oreos, contagious innocence, and grammatically correct emails, WHERE DO WE TURN???? It’s cool, guys. We’ve got Simon freaking Spier on Team Winnebago. All is well. (And delicious.)
3. Ali Brooks from When I WasThe Greatest by Jason Reynolds
Everyone needs an Ali in their lives—fiercely loyal to friends and family, fearless, and all kinds of clever. Should something go awry on our trip, Ali is the one to rally the troops and organize a plan.
4. Mia Hall from If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Whether it’s a playlist or an old school mixtape, music is an integral part of all good road trips. But how many Winnebagos can boast the presence of a live cellist? (Don’t worry—there’s a kitchenette. Plenty of room for Mia to perform Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 to our hearts’ content.)
5. Ryan Dean West from Winger by Andrew Smith
Imagine this: a road trip. Now imagine this: a road trip with Ryan Dean West. S’better, yeah? An added dose of youthful enthusiasm, witty banter, and self-deprecating humor. Just what the doctor ordered.
6. Bodee Lennox from Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens
Aka, the Blue-Haired Boy, Bodee is our Winnebago’s resident confidant and friend. When traversing the country, what could be more valuable than sage advice and a helping hand?
7. Lois Lane from Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond
Lois can try to fit in all she wants, but like any good reporter, she’s a rabble-rouser at heart. As our Winnebago’s cunning correspondent, you can bet whatever shenanigans we find ourselves in will be duly observed, documented, and published in the Daily Scoop.
8. Braden Raynor from Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert
The moral compass of our trip—whether it’s talk of baseball or faith or families, Braden is always there to lend an ear. Also, should Team Winnebago ever break out into a spontaneous game of whiffle ball, I’m siding with Raynor.
9. Nate Foster from Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
No matter how stellar the trip, chances are there will be lulls. Enter Nate Foster –– slayer of boredom, dismantler of second-guessing, and our Winnebago’s thespian-in-residence, to restore the magic of the trip.
10. Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
I think we can all agree that a road trip of this stature will most likely require a certain amount of unexpected bravery, vicious loyalty, perhaps a little volcanic climbing, and… taters. You know. Po-Tay-Toes?
11. Wade Watts from Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
We are nothing, if not prepared. Team Winnebago travels armed with a disaster readiness scenario; should our road trip begin to sour—should Frankie and Simon and Ali and Mia and Ryan Dean and Bodee and Lois and Braden and Nate and Samwise cry in unison, We can’t take it anymore, turn this thing around!—Parcival can just log into the Oasis and push the red button.
Ready for your road trip? Start with a journey through the brilliant, convoluted, and hilarious mind of 16-year-old Mim Malone, who hops on a bus from Mississippi to Ohio and makes you wish the trip will never end in MOSQUITOLAND!
Buy your copy of MOSQUITOLAND