First Day on Earth

First Day on Earth

4.5 4
by Cecil Castellucci

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A startling, wonderful novel about the true meaning of being an alien in an equally alien world. "We are specks. Pieces of dust in this universe. Big nothings. "I know what I am." Mal lives on the fringes of high school. Angry. Misunderstood. Yet loving the world -- or, at least, an idea of the world. Then he meets Hooper. Who says he's from another…  See more details below


A startling, wonderful novel about the true meaning of being an alien in an equally alien world. "We are specks. Pieces of dust in this universe. Big nothings. "I know what I am." Mal lives on the fringes of high school. Angry. Misunderstood. Yet loving the world -- or, at least, an idea of the world. Then he meets Hooper. Who says he's from another planet. And may be going home very soon.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Mal, a high school loner who has all but withdrawn from the world, believes that aliens abducted him four years earlier in the California desert, where he disappeared for three days. And he wouldn’t mind if they came back for him. It’s easy to see why Mal would want to escape Earth: his mother has a drinking problem, his father abandoned them six years ago, and he’s ostracized and taunted at school. When Mal meets a strange man at a support group for alien abductees, Hooper surprises Mal by claiming to be an extraterrestrial. Is Hooper insane—or Mal’s best chance for getting off the planet? Castellucci (Rose Sees Red) gives Mal a strong narrative voice, but while Mal is a sympathetic protagonist, most of the characters feel like types, from his alcoholic mother to popular Posey, who is hiding a painful secret. Readers may find the climactic road trip Mal takes with Posey—ostensibly to take Hooper to meet a spaceship—equally contrived: in the course of one day, Mal goes to a random house party, faces his father, learns Posey’s secret, and more. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Dawna Lisa Buchanan
"You think you know what I am, the kid slumped in his chair in the back row, with greasy hair, wearing all black. You're kind of scared of me. 'Cause I'm a loner. But you don't know shit" (page 1). Malcom (Mal) believes that he was abducted by aliens before being returned to earth, but he is having a hard time. People do not see who he really is, a kind-hearted, perceptive young man who is incredibly lonely. His mother is an alcoholic, and his father has abandoned the family. Mal quietly sticks up for Darywn, who is being bullied, and treats Posey with respect, even when others see her as a sex object. He rescues stray animals and attends Alateen. He also attends an abduction support group, where one day he meets Hooper. Hooper is an alien, and needs Mal's help to return to his home planet. On their way to deliver Hooper to the desert, the teens stop in the town where Mal's father has resettled with a new family. Mal is devastated when his father does not even recognize him. He begs Hooper to take him away from Earth, but in the end, Mal chooses to stay. This is a powerful story, narrated in realistic, uncomplicated language. It sketches a vivid portrait of a troubled young man who is never quite sure if he was really abducted or if Hooper is not really just a mentally disturbed person. Some readers might object to words such as "tits" and "ass" but Castellucci does not overuse this language in his portrayal of Mal's difficult life. The book offers a surprisingly gentle message and will have high appeal even for challenged readers. Reviewer: Dawna Lisa Buchanan
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Four years ago, Malcolm was abducted and probed by aliens for three days. He was found in the desert, and although he claims alien abduction, most people believe he had a psychotic break. Mal is unable to move past his father's abandonment, and he is coping poorly with the reality that his mom is a depressed alcoholic. He attends Alateen to address his anger and pain over being abandoned and neglected by both parents and attends alien-abduction group meetings to feel a sense of belonging. Though Mal has a few acquaintances in Mark, Sameer, and Posey, he is extremely lonely. He is the ever-present observer of his peers and of bullying but rarely interacts with others. He is judged on his appearance and quietness. When he meets Hooper, an alien sent to Earth to observe, he slowly begins to open up. Some readers might be put off by Mal's detached style, but they will want to find out what happens to him, and the short chapters will appeal to reluctant readers.—Adrienne L. Strock, Maricopa County Library District, AZ
Kirkus Reviews
A lonely teen claims to have been abducted by aliens in this heartfelt offering by the author of Rose Sees Red (2010). Troubled Mal attends two different support groups: one for teenagers with alcoholic parents and one for people who believe they were experimented on by aliens. His mother started drinking heavily after his dad deserted them six years ago, and shortly thereafter Mal went missing, to be discovered miles away from his home three days later. Already unpopular at school, his secret gnaws at him and makes him feel even more isolated. So when eccentric Hooper shows up and claims to actually be an alien on his way home, Mal hopes to convince him to take Mal on as a copilot. But the prospect of leaving it all behind the way his father did makes Mal seriously consider what he would lose and whom he would hurt. Mal's spare first-person narration is wistful and raw, reflecting the feelings of anyone who's ever felt misunderstood or abandoned. "I got lost and disappeared. For days. Sometimes I wonder which part of me came back." Castellucci also creates vibrant secondary characters, including wise Hooper, with a minimum of words--a welcome relief in these times of bloated teen fantasy novels. A simple, tender work that speaks to the alien in all of us. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

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First Day on Earth 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
kimberouch More than 1 year ago
Firstly this is a great book for teens, especially the guys. There is some language but it gives it the perfect tone to tell Mal's story, which could be any one's story. The problem with being a teenager is that no one understands you. For Mal it is that he really is misunderstood. His Dad left, his Mom is an alcoholic, he has two friends who never talk, and he was abducted by aliens. We start the story in a storm of loneliness and a cloud of depression. Now the difference from other brooding teens is that Mal knows why he is the way he is and doesn't plan on taking it out on the world around him. He just doesn't know why it happened to him. This novel is very well written. It sounds and feels like the voice of a teenage boy (I should know, I taught them for nearly a decade). The chapters are short, they are a thought or a story. It is smart referencing or quoting great authors including Oscar Wilde, Anne Sexton, Charlotte Bronte, William Shakespeare, and Tennessee Williams. Mal's journey is about finding his way, finding true friends, and being ok with the whys in his life. It made me feel like I could find my way through even the most bizarre and most unexplainable situations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book kept me captivated right form the beginning. It has everything you want or need in a book. It's short, but suspenseful!
Nikkayme More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars First Day on Earth is very quick read, but it packs a lot of punch in its 150 pages. It’s also quite different than what I expected. It seems like it’d be an alien book, but it focusses so much more on humankind and our existence with one another. The main character Mal has pain etched all over him. The simplicity of Castellucci’s writing and character dialogue evokes even more emotion because it’s real. Mal is an angry, bitter, broken kid with a great heart and Castellucci shows the reader just that. He becomes no more and no less than who he is and I love that about him. Despite his father abandoning him, despite his alcoholic mother, despite being mocked and bullied, Mal is a wonderful, caring human being. And Mal isn’t alone. He meets Hooper, a seemingly homeless, but very happy guy, and they become friends. Along the way Posey – a girl Mal’s had a crush on forever – and Darwyn – the constant cool kid tagalong – join their group to make four. The banding together of this group of outcasts (Posey isn’t exactly an outcast, but feels it all the same) is endearing and heartwarming. We see Mal, Posey, and Darwyn struggle with basic human need to fit in. Then we see Hooper not even attempt to fit in, but still fit so well with them. The ending leaves the story open up to interpretation. It leaves the reader with the task of deciding whether or not extraterrestrial life exists or whether this goofy, fun character was really just a weirdo with a great spirit.
MoonlightGleam More than 1 year ago
After his father left them years ago, Mal's mother is broken, turning to alcohol each day and leaving Mal to face the world all on his own. At school he's an outsider, never able to fit in with the norm. With very few friends, and teachers who have given up on having him follow the rules, Mal wanders the hallways past the bell signaling the start of class and enters the classrooms whenever he feels he should. Mal feels different from everyone else, as thought he's been touched by something unexplainable, never allowing him to be normal. Mal is convinced that he was abducted by aliens when he was younger and feels a connection he can't possibly explain to others. Ever since the abduction, Mal believes he must return to outer space, as though that is where he truly belongs. When Mal meets Hooper, a homeless man who claims that he's an alien trying to get back to his home on another planet, Mal agrees to help him get there. Not only does Mal want to help Hooper get home, he also wants Hooper to take him along... This is a wonderful short read about a boy who doesn't feel comfortable in his own skin. He believes that there is something out there in space, something he can't explain, and somewhere he truly belongs. Battling himself as well as others who try to convince him otherwise, that this is his home and that there's nothing for him out there. My favorite element of First Day on Earth was Cecil Castellucci's unique writing style of developing her stories in many short chapters. I feel that by having them being so short, as well as having chapters with simply one word or sentence had a greater overall impact. Another element which I enjoyed is how the novel is written from a boy's perspective. The writing in First Day on Earth definitely reflects a boy's point of view, short, direct, and to the point. I sympathized with Mal throughout the entire novel. He is a wonderful character that many can relate to, and his story is truly worth reading. I also appreciated that First Day on Earth is an open-ended novel, meant to encourage readers to come up with their own ending. My personal take on the ending is that Mal must let go of the person he wants to be, and accept the person he is. He shouldn't feel the need to find a place where he belongs, but accept that this is his home, that he isn't like everyone else and love himself in order for others to love him back. Cecil Castellucci is a fantastic story teller who's words share hidden meaning that will touch not only one, but that will touch many in different ways. I recommend First Day on Earth to those who enjoy Young Adult Fiction. Must Read! Highly Recommended!