Buddha Reads: The Mosquito Coast


On Sunday, February 26th, the Buddha Reads Book Club met via Zoom to discuss "The Mosquito Coast" by Paul Theroux. The book is about a paranoid and brilliant inventor Allie Fox who takes his family to live in the Honduran jungle, and is determined to build a civilization better than the one they've left. Fleeing from an America he sees as mired in materialism and conformity, he hopes to rediscover a purer life. But his Utopian experiment takes a dark turn when his obsessions lead the family toward unimaginable danger.

The reactions from the book club members were mixed. Bob thought that there was too much description of the people and places while Joan thought the descriptions were good and helped her picture the settings and people in the book. The story is told from the point of view of Charlie Fox. He is the fourteen year old who worships his father, Allie, whom everyone he discussion, Allie was called cruel, a genius, a sarcastic know-itall, a bully, a hypocrite, and a jerk. Whereas Charlie is describe as brave and loyal to a fault. Allie decides that America is going to heck in a hand basket and moves his family to the Mosquito Coast of Honduras. He wants a simpler life but he also craves admiration and thinks that if he can build a giant wood-burning machine to make ice, he can “raise up” the indigenous people and bring them civilization.

Mary said that she would have liked the book better if there was more of a female voice. Charlie’s mother goes along with what Allie wants and rarely steps in to shield the four children from the abuses of their father. Everyone wanted to finish the book, if for no other reason than to see if Allie gets a little karmic justice. The other characters in the book are funny, interesting and fill out the story in a pleasing way.

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