Castellucci, Cecil. 2011. FIRST DAY ON EARTH. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 9780545060820 [Suggested Grade Levels 8–12]
Anger, feeling misunderstood, isolated, and peer pressures are often the lot of a high school student. In Mal’s case, he appears to have the same issues as a normal high schooler, existing angrily on the fringes of the social scene. Yet appearances are not what they seem. For Mal, things are much worse, mirrored by his mother’s depression and drinking. Years ago he disappeared for three days after the abandonment of his father. Many theories are given but Mal knows that he experienced an alien abduction but how to be sure? At an abductees support group, Mal meets Hooper who seems to have some secrets that Mal can only guess at. Things quickly spiral into a road trip to the desert where Mal seeks to join Hooper into leaving planet Earth yet with the support of a few good friends, Mal realizes that he loves Earth and that it will be what he makes of it.
The writing may seem spare but is packed with emotions young adults will relate to. Even older readers will respond to Mal’s emotional journey and the complexity of his development as a character as he explores the new world of his making. The reader will be left wondering if Hooper really is an alien, if Mal was really abducted, but the reader will come away knowing that Mal has come to terms with himself and with the world at large. An excellent novel that grabs a reader by the heart.
An exploration into the myths and facts of Area 51 would be an excellent companion to this novel or research into abduction reports.
Dashner, James. THE MAZE RUNNER. ISBN 0385737947
Sagan, Carl. CONTACT ISBN 9780671004101
By Christine J. Rayl