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

Overview

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Mal, a high school loner who has all but withdrawn from the world, believes that aliens abducted him four years earlier in the California desert, where he disappeared for three days.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

ISBN-13:
9780545388108
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
11/01/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
1,067,704
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

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