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Earth to Charlie

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A high school outcast spends his life hoping to be abducted by aliens in this funny, quirky novel about finding your footing in a world that sometimes feels like Mars.

Convinced his mother has been abducted by aliens, Charlie Dickens spends his nights with an eye out for UFOs, hoping to join her. After all, she said the aliens would come back for him. Charlie will admit that he doesn’t have many reasons to stick around; he doesn’t get along well with his father, he’s constantly bullied at school and at work, and the only friend he has is his 600-pound neighbor Geoffrey, and Geoffrey’s three-legged dog, Tickles.

Then Charlie meets popular, easy-going Seth, who shows him what real friendship is all about. For once, he finds himself looking around at the life he’s built, rather than looking up. But sooner than he expected, Charlie has to make a decision: should he stay or should he go?

288 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 16, 2019

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About the author

Justin Olson

1 book65 followers
Justin Olson is the author of Earth to Charlie (Simon & Schuster BFYR). Originally from Montana, he has lived in five states in the last five years (California, Montana, Arizona, Oregon, and Utah). He's currently working on his second novel.

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5 stars
108 (24%)
4 stars
137 (31%)
3 stars
146 (33%)
2 stars
41 (9%)
1 star
9 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 126 reviews
Profile Image for Justin Olson.
Author 1 book65 followers
January 26, 2019
I'm going to go ahead and rate my book. I just kept thinking about it, wondering, "Should I really rate my own novel? Is that corny? Silly? Will people laugh at me? Hate me?"

Then I thought, "Well, didn't I spend years thinking about, and then writing, Charlie's story? And didn't I spend even more time working on getting it to the point where it's mere months from its publication? And isn't the nearly half-decade of time worthy of five stars?"

Well, to be honest, who knows. People rate books 5 stars or 1 star for the most random of reasons. But I do know that I love this story. I think of Charlie, Seth, Susan, Geoffrey, Eloise, Tickles, and the rest, as people worthy of love. So to hell with it. I'm going to rate EARTH TO CHARIE the whole 5 stars, because that's how brightly this book shines in my life.
Profile Image for Katie Gallagher.
Author 5 books216 followers
August 8, 2019
Check out my blog for more reviews and fun bookish stuff!

This was one of those books that I picked up in a random buy-a-thon in Barnes and Noble. The blurb called to me: aliens in Montana? I’m writing a book about aliens in Montana, so this was basically required reading!

Slight spoiler, but I think you really ought to know this heading into the book: in the end, Earth to Charlie turned out to be much more of a contemporary book than anything approaching sci-fi. That was a bit of a disappointment to me; it’s not the first time this year that I’ve been teased with YA aliens, only for the author to not follow through. But nevertheless, I finished this book within one sitting, which should speak for itself in terms of the easy readability of this book. It’s a comfy page turner, with a small cast and a cozy, small town setting. I’m still searching for YA aliens, but I’ll recommend Earth to Charlie to fans of contemporary coming-of-age fiction, especially if you’re looking for an LGBT thread.
Profile Image for TL .
1,819 reviews35 followers
June 14, 2019
I received this via Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own.

This was one of the ones that was high up on my wishlist.. the cover was the first to intrigue, not gonna lie :) The summary caught my eye and I could't click on the giveaway fast enough when it came up.

When I finished the book...

It took awhile for me to get invested in it, this book is a steady/slow pace and isn't in a hurry to get there.

That came out wrong but what I mean is, the book gets to events in its own time and wants you to get to know everyone involved.

Hopefully that made more sense.

Problem is, it felt... incomplete. Some things felt like they were plopped into the story tenatively to see if they would stick while others were flitted in and out or a bit rushed into their conclusions.

Certain points in the story I would have loved to see developed more too.

I did love Seth and Charlie though, despite the issues I had with the story. As for Tickles the dog.. .can I adopt him? How can you not love that little furbaby?:)

I did predict one plot point but that didn't bother me.. did feel sad for Charlie though.

This was a good book, just not great... some unfufilled potential (for this reader) but I would still say give this one a shot.

Profile Image for Alexx.
295 reviews62 followers
May 24, 2019
(You can also find this review on my blog!)

I had high hopes for this book, and I am telling you now—it did not disappoint. From UFO's, to friendship, to family, to awkward teens, to a cute dog, and to some self-realizations, I adored everything about this book.

This is a DRC I received from Edelweiss.

The writing
The writing style is wonderful! It's light and easy, but it was also beautiful and melancholic, and at times, even poetic. For me, it has the same style as Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (which is one of my favorite books out there!). When I read it, I didn't want to put it down (but I had to because of work *cries*), I just wanted to read and read.

I also loved how the narration of the story slipped between the present happenings to these sort of flashbacks in Charlie's life. It's like he's zoning out, and I, the reader, zone out with him and I get to relive his memory. Kudos to the author, because that for me, was brilliant. (*slow caps*) In a way, this also connects to the title of the book. Because apart from the fact that Charlie wants to be taken away by aliens, he also keeps zoning out into his own little bubble of thoughts and emotions.

The characters
I loved the characters! The protagonist Charlie is really damn relatable, and I guess this is the reason why I had so much fun reading this story. His thoughts and emotions were just so pure and genuine, and awkward. I could really see that he was just this high school outcast, struggling with emotions and is trying to cope with his mother's disappearance.

Seth was likeable, too, although I really wanted more of his personality, more of his story. (And I did get some of his story, but it was only revealed near the end of the book.) He was a genuine character who contributed greatly to Charlie's life and view on certain things. I also loved the interactions between him and Charlie, because it shows just how much of a teenager they are. They're awkward and shy, and their friendship is so pure. I loved that. 

Geoffrey, though he was only a minor character, has a special place in my heart. He was Charlie's 600-pound neighbor, and I loved getting to know his character and his whole story. And in the end, I was really happy that he had a wholesome character development.

Charlie's dad, on the other hand, makes me have conflicted feelings. I wasn't fond of him at first but as the story progresses, I see his character developing and changing. There's something about him that still irks me, though. (But I won't be telling you anything as I do not want to spoil you, book nerds! You just have to see for yourself. *winks*)

The plot
The plot was uncomplicated, and yet the story is so poignant and real. Maybe because it was about a teenager who yearns to disappear, maybe because it's about trying to cope with something so terrible and sad. Or maybe because it was also about finding yourself, and recognizing your dreams and your wants, and embracing the life you have. Whatever it is, it definitely worked for me (I think I cried three times reading this book *sniffs*).

There were two things in the plot though, small details, that raised some questions for me. And I hoped that it would be answered before the story ends, but it wasn't. (Yeah, I'm a little bummed about this). But despite that, I still loved this book, I loved how the story went, and who knows maybe I will get answers on the official release.

I’m giving this book 4.5 stars out of 5. Congratulations in advance to Justin Olson for this debut novel, and I can’t wait to finally have a physical copy on my hands!


I finally have a physical copy in my hands and devoured this in a day! There are still some unanswered details, but I just adore this book with my heart.
Profile Image for Naomi Milliner.
Author 2 books71 followers
January 11, 2019
What a terrific read! I felt profound sympathy for the highly likable MC, Charlie. He's so unhappy with his life that he longs to be abducted by aliens, and reunited with his mother. His sadness and loneliness are beautifully depicted, and the supporting cast of characters is strong and interesting. I had no idea where the story was headed, but I was completely satisfied with the ending. Sweet and powerful, this book is well worth reading, and I feel that anyone can relate to Charlie. Fantastic debut novel!
Profile Image for ivy francis.
548 reviews27 followers
May 5, 2019
I was sadly underwhelmed by Earth to Charlie. While the titular character was sweet and interesting, the writing was juvenile and the story felt cut-off and unresolved. Also, the slight fatphobia in Geoffrey's character was uncomfortable and unneeded. Overall, I expected a lot more from this book and felt like I didn't get back what I put into it.
Profile Image for Zaina.
115 reviews2 followers
August 9, 2021
whatever the genre of book in which a random kid in a small town who doesn’t really do anything but i get emotionally attached to is called—that’s what this is and i love it
Profile Image for Jerell.
1 review
December 25, 2018
As a diverse reader of color and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, this book had me misty eyed and emotional. I was able to relate in a universal way and I’m sure everyone of ALL walks of life will be able to take a lot from it. We need more books like this. The kind that reminds us that we’re all human. I literally hugged the book after reading it. There’s not enough YA books for young boys growing up that are thoughtful, emotional, and sensitive in a way that lets you know it’s okay... and it’s alright. And you’re not alone. This is the book that’s missing from the lists and “hype” out there. It’s understated and truly shines in its writing and language that’s engrossing and evocative. It’s honest, visceral, and Justin Olson is truly a shining voice in YA that needs to be cherished. He’s going to be your new favorite writer and I can’t wait for his next book.
Profile Image for Karol Silverstein.
Author 3 books42 followers
January 11, 2019
The word that kept coming to me over and over as I read this engaging story was "tender." Charlie interacts with the people in his life - his grandma who he visits regularly though she rarely recognizes him, his very overweight neighbor Geoffrey and Geoffrey's three-legged dog Tinkles, his new friend from school, Seth - with such an open heart and with such kindness, that it makes the reader feel tremendously connected to him. His emotions are deeply felt and we feel them all along with him. The book stays with you long after putting it down too. This is a great read for fans of contemporary/realistic YA (yes, even with aliens - this story is as real as it gets!) and is a lovely study in empathy and friendship.
Profile Image for J.H. Trumble.
Author 5 books480 followers
December 30, 2018
So excited to see this book making it's way into the world. I suck at writing reviews, so let me just say read it! CHARLIE is original, quirky, tender. I could def see this one coming to the big screen one day.
Profile Image for Garan.
110 reviews134 followers
March 27, 2019
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Whew. This book was an emotional ride. I really enjoyed the writing choices and how the narration was so natural and conversational. It really made me feel connected to Charlie from the start. He is such an earnest and pure character that you can’t really help but feel for him and his plight.

I think there was a great deal of excellent work done on the supporting characters and I really enjoyed getting to know all the unique people in Charlie’s life.

I think the plot and the gravity of the story really hinges on how Olson depicted Charlie’s sadness and loneliness. This is where the book really found its wings for me and made it so important to me. It’s a very delicate thing to write about and Olson did so very beautifully.

This is a wonderful debut and I look forward to more of Olson’s work.
Profile Image for Brenna Clark.
198 reviews4 followers
February 24, 2019
Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC of this sweet and impactful book. All my life, I grew up believing in the impossible. My mom raised me on The X-Files, Harry Potter, and so many other fantastical worlds that were too far away to touch but incredibly near and dear to her heart. I felt a huge connection to Charlie in that way, who thinks he is looking for his mom in the stars but is really finding his way with the sky as his map. The way he wakes up every day and names the sky he’s greeting with is so beautiful, and really makes you stop to think when the last time you took the sky in with such reverence. I think this is a book of not only finding yourself, but slowing down enough to feel that connection with nature, other human beings, and being alive. We move so fast and get caught up in the routine of life that we forget to chase our UFOs. We forget to spend a little extra time with our family. We forget that we’re not alone; that the pain in our chest might be a mirror to someone else’s. I loved watching Charlie work through these things, and that the ending was really a beginning as Charlie let go of his past to walk into a new day; a new life. If you’re feeling stuck or life has just gotten you down, this book will pull you out and remind you of the most important thing. You’re alive.
Profile Image for Bridget Tyler.
Author 3 books87 followers
November 15, 2018
I was having a conversation with my husband a few weeks ago about how hard it was to think of really great role model characters for boys who aren't based on comic books from the early 20th century or sci fi and fantasy movies of the 80's. Then I read Earth to Charlie. It's so rare to find a story about young men struggling with their emotions, learning to deal with friendship, and ultimately learning to be kind to themselves and each other. This one is pitch perfect. Funny and sweet and sad and awkward in all the ways that make great growing up stories ring true.
Profile Image for Claire⁷.
244 reviews
May 7, 2019
I was ready to give this four stars because I enjoyed the relationship between Charlie and Seth, but there was very little happening in this book?
Profile Image for Lauren.
10 reviews
January 19, 2020
This truly is one of the best books that I have ever read! It is so phenomenally beautiful and to anyone who is thinking of reading it do it! And to those that aren't thinking of reading it, you should really reconsider. 1000% worth it.
Profile Image for Jessica (Goldenfurpro).
883 reviews252 followers
June 10, 2019
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

Short and Simple Review
I picked up this book mainly because it looked like a mix of aliens (one of my older obsessions) and contemporary (one of my newer obsessions). To be honest, with that combination I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. This book is high on contemporary, less on the aliens, but Charlie (our MC) firmly believes that his mother was taken by aliens and that the aliens are coming for him as well. This idea is in the background of the story as Charlie goes to school and makes a new friend, Seth. I really liked the realism in this book. The pacing is pretty slow and not a whole lot happened, but it felt so much like it was showing us real experiences. I loved seeing the growing friendship between Charlie and Seth and I even loved Charlie's interactions with his neighbor and his dog Tickles. Everything just felt authentic, so the fact that not a whole lot happened, made things feel more real. Overall, this is a fantastic debut novel and I will keep my eyes open for any other books by Justin Olson.
Profile Image for N..
691 reviews26 followers
October 20, 2019
Earth to Charlie has a cover that makes it look like sci-fi but it's a YA about an outcast who has been waiting for aliens to take him away since the night his mother said she was about to be picked up by aliens and they'd come back for him later . . . and then she disappeared.

Charlie's been mercilessly bullied at school but then a new guy arrives and he wants to be friends. Charlie is hesitant. He's a pariah. Why would anyone actually want to be his friend? There are a lot of other things going on: Charlie's grandma is in a nursing home deteriorating from Alzheimer's and he's the only person who ever visits her; Charlie's dad's drinking too much and not present so that Charlie feels alone at home; Charlie's 600-pound neighbor ends up in the hospital and Charlie offers to dog-sit the dog he usually walks but his dad doesn't want a dog in the house.

I closed the book with happy tears in my eyes. I thought it was wonderful. Recommended by author David Abrams. When he recommended Earth to Charlie my eye was initially caught by that gorgeous cover. And, it does look like a sci-fi cover, but I looked up the description and thought it still sounded good, after initially being disappointed that it wasn't sci-fi.

So glad I bought this book. I've been fighting a book slump and it drew me right in. I wanted to know what happened to Charlie's mother, whether there was more to his friendship with Seth than Seth wanted to admit (this part is handled so beautifully that I just want to give the author a bear hug), what would happen with his neighbor and the dog. I also loved the relationships between Charlie and his grandmother and his friendships with the neighbor, the nice nurse at the nursing home, and Seth. A lovely, moving story of finding your way on Earth.
Profile Image for Gordon Ambos.
Author 3 books56 followers
May 5, 2019

Das Buch hatte gute Ansätze, kam mir aber noch ziemlich unausgereift vor. Die Charaktere erschienen mir noch relativ farblos, was wahrscheinlich auch zum Teil daran lag, dass deren Aussehen nie beschrieben wurde. 50-100 Seiten zsätzlich und etwas mehr Tiefe hätten dem Buch sicherlich gutgetan.
Trotzdem ist es eine schöne Geschichte, die durchaus lesenswert ist.
Profile Image for Mylo.
2 reviews
October 24, 2022
Profile Image for Martin.
223 reviews2 followers
August 7, 2021
Okay to be honest I’ve been thinking for a while that YA has been loosing me as a reader. It has been a long time since I really connected with a YA book or even really wanted to read one.

To me Earth to Charlie is a great example of YA thriving. It genuinely feels like a teenage book and the characters really act their ages in the best way. I feel like on a lot of YA the characters ages can be changed without consequences to the book, which I don’t really love.

Even though the ending felt a little rushed I still really loved this overall. I like the semi-fantastical themes in the background and the character growth for everyone is really present.
Profile Image for Tiffany Neal.
227 reviews31 followers
March 14, 2019
Thank you, NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of this title.

While I wasn’t fully swept away by his debut YA novel, there’s a certain contentment that I felt as I read it.

Firstly, Justin Olson is a great writer, and I imagine he will have a fruitful career with many more novels to come. His writing is simple, easy to read, yet poetic and completely engaging. So many YA novelists tend to over-write and ruin the story with such tactics, but not Justin. He’s a damn good writer.

While there isn’t much to the storyline itself, I found the simplistic nature of a teenage boy figuring out exactly who he is through family and friendships to be quite refreshing. The characters drove this story, which some authors forget. I found myself drawn to Charlie and invested in him early on. I also enjoyed Seth, Geoffrey, the grandmother, and Susan and how Charlie related to each of these characters. While I wasn’t a fan of his dad, the relationship between father and son, was an accurate representation of how past demons can really put a strain on current life.

Themes of friendship, love, and mental health make this a great book for teenagers to read as I’m certain they can find rather relatable threads woven in between the book and their lives.
Profile Image for Chelsea Bashore.
583 reviews35 followers
August 9, 2019
So, I was lucky enough to win this book in a Twitter giveaway.

I loved this book so much. For myself I have a solid connection to the character dealing with his mom's mental health concerns. That feeling of always wanting to fix things or still have faith in the one you love is so pure. I appreciated that.

The friendship that this book shows and tell is beautiful. I think there needs to be more books that enable boys/teen boys the chance to read about friendship and relationships with LGBTQ+ characters and not always have it specifically be a love story. I have students in my classroom who have not been exposed to that, and this is such a great chance to normalize friendships with ALL people because that is what friendship should be! I am also thankful for the LGBT+Q positivity and themes in this book to show my students that they can be themselves and be brave and the outcome can be ok.

Definitely take a chance on this, you won't regret it!
Profile Image for Stephanie Braswell.
170 reviews3 followers
June 23, 2020
⁣Earth to Charlie by Justin Olsen is a YA novel that covered SO MANY themes, even some I wasn’t expecting, that children struggle with in their everyday lives. Friendship, bullying, abandonment, mental health, sexuality, loss, forgiveness, alcohol abuse, unhealthy body images, AND ALIENS.
⁣I was engrossed in this story all day long, it was an easy read with a message most kids can connect with at least one facet of a Charlie’s journey. ⁣
⁣My rating is four stars instead of five ONLY because
1. Olsens style is very blunt and straightforward, and I’m a lover of flowery language.
And 2. There were a few times the word “ass” “assholes” and “fuck” were used and I’m worried about putting it in my classroom library 🤷🏻‍♀️
September 10, 2020
Wonderful YA book, about finding your place in the universe. The people who hinder you, and the people who don't, and how to let the ones who don't into your world so you can get to know THEM. What friendship means, how families function, or don't function, when a family member is missing. Whether to live for the "what if's" in the future, walling yourself off from the "now", or whether/how to embrace the "now" with people who support you at your side.
Profile Image for Chandra.
440 reviews2 followers
July 22, 2022
Earth to Charlie is unique, clever, humorous, and full of heart. Charlie is such a lovable main character and I spent the whole book wanting to hug him and cheer him on. Earth to Charlie is a highly relatable story told through a very innovative lens. I truly loved this book and look forward to reading it again! 👽💜💙💫
115 reviews
June 2, 2020
The value of a mother/son relationship, being the misfit, distance from those you value, finding your way through it all with all the feelings. What you think is reality or what you think is for you just may be not what is meant for you. Be open, hold on, love yourself and love and grace will find you.
Profile Image for nicole.
8 reviews6 followers
October 1, 2019
What a great read. I loved Charlie so much. I felt so much for the character. I was so invested in the book. I cried in some parts and that’s very hard for me to do in a book. That ending though???? I need more information!!
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