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First Day on Earth

by Cecil Castellucci

Published by Scholastic Press, 2011
160 pages
ISBN: trade 978𢠧45-060820

Age 13 and older

Mal is a teenage loner梩he kind of kid, he notes, who others probably think is on the verge of doing something violent. In truth, Mal rescues stray animals and quietly watches over a few stray kids at school, too, as well as his alcoholic mother at home. Mal is also harboring a secret: He was abducted by aliens from space when he was twelve梟ot long after his dad abandoned their family. Mal knows people will think he抯 crazy so he抯 told no one. Then Mal meets Hooper at a support group for alien abductees梩he first place Mal finally tells his story. Hooper is another stray, but he抯 also someone Mal believes might truly understand what happened to him. Yet when Hooper tells Mal his own story梬ho he is, and where he抯 from桵al struggles to believe him, an irony that isn抰 lost on him. Readers, too, are never quite sure what to believe in Cecil Castellucci抯 singular and surprising novel. A climactic road trip for Mal, Hooper, and two kids from Mal抯 school offers up perhaps one too many cathartic revelations, but this doesn抰 detract from the impact of this riveting, emotionally compelling read. Castellucci not only affirms the hope that is found in connection with others, she also shows much respect for both her characters and her readers by refusing to offer up a definitive, rational explanation for the alien experiences in the story.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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