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Posted November 3, 2011
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.
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Posted May 18, 2012
Posted February 18, 2012
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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.
Posted December 5, 2011
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!