The Martian Child: A Novel about a Single Father Adopting a Son
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The Martian Child: A Novel about a Single Father Adopting a Son

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3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  742 ratings  ·  132 reviews
In 1995, David Gerrold finalized an adoption process that would end up changing his life forever. As he would discover, however, there were many times ahead when the joy of single fatherhood would be tempered by a single profound thought: What the hell was I thinking? "The Martian Child is a novelized portrait of Gerrold's sometimes exhilarating and sometimes exasperating...more
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Published April 1st 2006 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published June 1st 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,265)
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Bobby
David Gerrold calls his book a novel. I would like to suggest that he wrote a memoir instead. He definitely touched me. I know this kid, his martian child. I know this kid well. I spent 16 years of my life, more actually when adding volunteer work and additional contacts, with this kid. My martian came in all shapes and sizes and displayed multiple behaviors, but I cared for this kid so tenderly. While I can provide individual names and tell kids stories, I must admit I loved collectively, and t...more
Trin
This book was incredibly frustrating. I stumbled across it at the library and picked it up because I’d heard that it’s being made into a movie starring John Cusack. I was also somewhat intrigued by the premise, which is based on the author’s own life: a single, gay sci-fi writer decides he wants to adopt a kid, but the boy he becomes committed to is very troubled and thinks he (the boy) is a Martian. My main worry going in was that it was going to be too saccharine (favorable comparisons to Tue...more
Luke
It certainly seemed like it would be good, but I was tired of it halfway through and the end, while touching, just wasn't narratively powerful at all. The author seems addicted to bad jokes (and, if it wasn't just me, likes to repeat the same ones).

The storytelling tricks in the second half, like the narrator talking to his old self, or the narrator talking to the supercomputer character in a book he'd written are ham-fisted at best.

But the heart of the story is immensely sweet, and the first h...more
Hakim
This semi-autobiographical novella is an interesting study of child (and adoptive father) psychology. It is also insanely cute.
The narrator adopts Danny, a child who believes he's from Mars. The father questions Danny's origin as the kid starts displaying many "talents". Written as a memoir, The Martian Child made me ponder about adoption, and what it feels like to adopt an abandoned, unwanted hyperactive child with a crazy imagination. (Or a martian).
The movie is different from the book, but...more
Guillermo
"Today, I recognize that being human is the greatest adventure of all. And being a parent is the best part of that adventure," David Gerrold writes in the afterward of the Kindle edition of The Martian Child - an autobiographical piece about his adoptive son. "[A]nyone who hasn't experienced that hasn't finished the job of learning how to be human."

I caught the film adaptation Thursday morning, staying up until three to watch it - after baking pies all Wednesday night for Thanksgiving, I needed...more
Jamie
This rather odd book calls itself a novel based on a true story, and it reads mostly like a memoir about Gerrold’s adoption of an abused, troubled child. Gerrold is a single gay man, a science fiction novelist and screenwriter who is most famous as the writer of one of the most popular Star Trek episodes.

The child he adopts claims occasionally to be a Martian. At first the narrator shrugs at this, understanding it to be a coping mechanism. Then the book segues into weirdness when the narrator st...more
Minh
The Martian Child was disappointing to me mostly because of the way it was presented. A few of the labels I've seen have presented this novella as the story of a single gay father adopting a child who believes he's from Mars.

The problem was having this expectation in my head, there was absolutely nothing in the novel about his sexuality, in fact the entire novel was skimpy on details. The #1 omission for me was the loss of the entire first year of their lives together, simply jumping to an alre...more
Karl
Jun 18, 2012 Karl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
David Gerrold, perhaps best known for writing the classic Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles," gives us a fictional account of his true life adventures as a gay, single father adopting a special needs child.

At times both funny and sad -- but heart-warming throughout -- "The Martian Child" is a fabulous read. Gerrold's writing is simple and direct, even spartan at times. The first-person narrative is conversational and confessional, and Gerrold draws you into the story like you're an o...more
Lisa
Well, first of all my edition said on the front cover that the author was a Nebula award winner. So I thought it was sci fi. It isn't, and I guess judging from the subtitle it isn't nonfiction either? This is a nice memoir that mostly sounds true about a guy who adopts a difficult little boy, gives him the love he needs, and forges a family. Very sweet. But the prose is workmanlike at best -- it has a mass-market magazine feel that gets old in book form (very reminiscent in tone to "I'm Hosting...more
Leona
I really enjoyed this book - I read it in one night! I was thinking as a therapist as I read, and was amazed at how some of the "professionals" treated this poor boy, while his new dad had so many good ideas and instincts, and insights. Different from the movie of course, but I don't think they changed too much. The book was nice because it followed the two of them for a longer period of time.
Nancy
Oct 06, 2008 Nancy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults, adoptive parents, older children who were adopted
Shelves: modern-writers
I wanted to read about adoption and children with psychosis. Instead I found a short novel about a neurotic adoptive parent (who wouldn't be) and what it means to love and raise a kid. The screen play (movie) was very different and played well, but the book has more of an emotional insight into my original goals: adoptiona and psychosis only for the parent not the child.
Kristin
I haven't read a book so quickly in a long time. This was a beautifully written novel about the author's real life experience of adopting an eight-year-old boy. Mostly, it was a story of two people who needed love and family and their journey together. More touchy-feely than most things I read, but I loved it.
McKenzie Richardson
This is a cute book. I wanted to read it, because I loved the movie version of it so much. After reading it, however, I was a little disappointed in the movie for making David's character a widower when in actuality he was a gay man. I think the movie really missed out on some important plot pieces by excluding this.

One of the things I loved about Gerrold's novel is that he is so open about his sexual orientation, which I know can be hard for many people even in today's culture which is more ac...more
Lis Carey
This is a fictionalized account of David Gerrold's adoption of his son, at the time an eight-year-old boy who had been "in the system" since birth, and had averaged one placement a year over that time.

Having decided to adopt a child, and having cleared the first challenging hurdle of being approved as a potential adopter, Gerrold attends an event that sounds rather like a setting he's more familiar with--a science fiction convention, but with a really, really different focus, both in programming...more
Rick
If you go into this book expecting science fiction you're going to be disappointed. If you pick up this book expecting a powerful expose on the trials and tribbleations [sorry, I just couldn't resist] of the adoption process you're going to be disappointed. This book is not science fiction and it's not non-fiction. This is a fictionalized biography with more in common with Augusten Burroughs than Edgar Rice Burroughs. David Gerrold relates the process he went through to adopt his son and how he...more
Dana
This is my second read through of this book and I think it is one of the few novels that I find the movie to be more interesting (although I'm disappointed in some of the changes that movie made to make it more PC). However, Martian Child is a unique little story that is based on one mans journey through his adoption of his son... who thinks he's a Martian. It's quirky and its cute and the writing flows. Twice I found myself underlining passages that I liked or that made me laugh out loud and if...more
Kate
David Gerrold, a science fiction writer, decided he wanted to become a father. Single and gay, he chose to adopt through the California Foster Care system. One day, while looking through a book of adoptable children, he came upon a picture of Dennis, a troubled young boy that the social workers had labeled unadoptable. Dennis was convinced he was a Martian, got into fights with other kids, and destroyed property. But David was ready to take him on. Together, they built a family.

This was a great...more
Britt
I was a bit wary about reading this because I am not a fan of overly emotional, heartwarming tales of love and suffering and ultimate triumph. But I found this book to be emotional without being overwrought. The author writes beautifully and has some pretty great descriptions.

However, it seems a bit shallow. I felt like we were just skimming the top of the story. It's a complex topic, but it seemed the author was telling us about how difficult adopting a troubled child was or he had been told/r...more
Lacey Louwagie
Knowing that this book was based on the author's actual experiences of adopting an older boy as a single father, I admit that wanting to know how much was "true" and how much was "made up" distracted me through a lot of the listening. Luckily, Wikipedia cleared it up by explaining that most of the experiences were true, but that the thread about the adopted boy believing he was a Martian was fabricated. Thank you, Wikipedia! Now I can move on.

I wanted to know because, honestly, this book works b...more
Alien  Citizen
The book is a very different story from the movie. The end of the book is somewhat different in style, I thought, a kind of stream-of-consciousness journey inside the mind of the author as he struggles to do the right thing. I wish I could have felt more sympathetic for him at that point but - really - who leaves a giant spaceship in their house with an eight-year old (or was it 7?) and expects them not to touch the thing? There were a lot of really hard situations that he had to deal with build...more
Tracey
Written in the first person, Gerrold writes about the bureaucratic struggles involved in adopting a child, specifically, Dennis. He saw the boy in a social worker's photo book of foster children and just had to meet him. Dennis was 8 years old, an abused child who had already been bounced through several foster homes. A special needs child who claimed to be a Martian, he seemed unadoptable; but Gerrold, along with his dog, Somewhere, took up that challenge, and tells us the story of their first...more
Laura Scarbro
Started off feeling like this was two stars, then progressed as I got to the end. I feel this book reflects some of the thought process of an adoptive parent and makes some good points about what works, even if it comes across as magically working. The beginning of the book feels naive, which is an accurate reflection of the views of an adoptive parent without any real experience yet. Additionally, each parent's journey is strongly impacted y their own history and that comes through in this book...more
A.
I really wanted to give this book more than four stars but a dialog was cut short in some parts and some seem to derail from the premise of the story.

Other than that, I found the book tugging away at my heartstrings in such a good way. Normally I find stories about people's children very irritating because they usually all deal with the same thing (that, and probably because I don't want a child in the near future to be too interested in the subject matter), but this book was different. This was...more
Kieran Walsh
It could be because I’m not a parent that this book seemed to go right over my head. It’s a short read and because of the brevity I thought that there might be an underlying/subliminal theme but that’s really giving it too much credit. The story was little other than the ups/downs of being a dad! If it wasn’t for book club I wouldn’t have bothered with this masterpiece. Surprisingly, because there are more important aspects to both dad/adopted child than the ‘I love you, son/I love you, dad’ rep...more
Heather
I had such high hopes for this story and found it to be a total disappointment. A single father adopts a boy, who has been so traumatized that he has receded into himself. The story, told in the first person by the author, begins well. I was drawn in and really eager to hear the story.

But then the author jumps in time, making sweeping statements generalizing the challenges of adopting a troubled child. I wanted more 3 dimensional view of the characters and this one definitely fall flat. The sto...more
Wynn
The title of the book basically says it all. The author, David Gerrold, is a single science fiction writer who wants to be a father. He struggles in the process by all the bad judgments and mistakes regarding his potential son, Dennis, from both the social service employees and the reports from foster families. David doesn’t believe the misjudgments reflect who Dennis is really is. Of course, Dennis believes he is a Martian. David takes in Dennis and never gives up on his duty as dad. Dennis has...more
Michelle
This reads more like a memoir than a novel. I found the detail of his highs and lows through adopting a 'troubled' child to be incredibly real. I found myself waiting for that moment when everything would just be ok.
I think my personal experiences in parenting and my knowledge of the foster care system helped me follow his journey into fatherhood.
Christine Sinclair
A quick read, but very well-written and imaginative. A lonely gay science-fiction writer adopts a troubled boy who believes he is a Martian. The movie was well-received, but for some reason they made the writer a widower instead of gay. John Cusack played the lead, with Joan Cusack as his sister. (Type-casting!)
Chuck Rankin
The Martian Child was such a fantastic book about a gay man adopting a child that just needed some love and attention.

Great book. Crappy movie...especially since the father figure was not bent. Disgusting change in the movie storyline....but $$ breeds $$.
Julie
This almost got a five-star rating from me. The one thing that kept it from a perfect rating was towards the end when the author got off on his own martian tangent for a few pages.

I read it in one night. The story of a wonderful man, adopting a wonderful young boy (even though most couldn't see his wonderful-ness) was absolutely enthralling. To read about all of the trials and tribulations they went through was so heart-warming. And the fact that this was a true story made it all the more specia...more
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“know a lot of people who hide out in fantasy because reality is too hard to cope with [...] Fantasy isn't about escape; it's a survival mechanism. It's a way to deal with things that are so much bigger than you are. So I think fantasy is special, something to be cherished and protected because it's a very fragile thing and without it, we're so defenseless, we're paralyzed” 1 likes
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