Kelly's Reviews > First Day on Earth

First Day on Earth by Cecil Castellucci
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's review
Mar 11, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: ya-fiction, read-in-2011

Full review here:

Where can I possibly begin with how much I really, really, REALLY liked this book?

In theory and from the description, it's a book about Mal, who is an alien. And all he wants to do is go back to where he's from. And in his Alateen group, he's met this guy named Hooper who is crazy. Who also claims to be from another planet. As soon as the two of these guys who feel like the loneliest people on Earth meet, though, Hooper knows he has to go back to his home star. Mal doesn't want to let him go because he's finally forged a friendship with someone, and Mal is desperate to go with him.

I don't think this book is at all about the aliens. I don't believe for a second either one of these guys is an alien or from another planet.

These two guys are as human as human gets.

Mal is angry. His home life sucks. Mal's mom and dad recently divorced after being apart for a few years. Mal's mom has sunk into alcoholism and deep depression and his dad has just disappeared all together.

(This is where I am going to get personal, which I try not to do too much in reviewing).

This is the first time I can recall ever truly feeling like I connected with a character dealing with a father issue. Mal's dad is gone. Completely gone. He left nothing in his wake, though Mal knows where he lives. His dad hasn't bothered calling, hasn't bothered checking in, doesn't care. He's moved on. He's living a new life with a new wife and kids and has completely divorced himself from Mal.

Mal has every effing right in the world to be as angry about it as he is. Every moment Mal got angry, I was angry with him. I've been there. It sucks. Everything Mal felt is completely authentic. Reading this thin little book brought out some gross emotions I'd shoved deep down because it hit that little nerve I like to keep buried. But it felt GOOD to feel them right along with this character. And (view spoiler)

When a parent walks out of your life with no explanation, it's hard to articulate what that really feels like. And the fact is, no one truly can understand what it feels like unless they've been there. It's not about the divorce or about what it feels like when parents split. Having a parent walk out on you is devastating and horrific on a whole different level. Knowing they've got a new life -- one without you, one with new kids and a new wife -- and knowing they're never going to come back to see you? It wrecks you. Mal's mom becomes an alcoholic, and Mal is abandoned. When it happens to you when you're 15, you feel like an alien and like you truly, honestly do not belong here. You've been dropped somewhere completely foreign without the support you deserve to have.

It sucks. And it penetrates everything -- Mal cannot relate to the people around him because he feels so foreign. He can't forge the connections he wants because he can't piece himself together. Moreover, he doesn't believe anyone has ever felt as low as he has. He thinks everyone around him has it good compared to him. And how could he not, really?

Through the metaphor of the alien, of course, Mal DOES begin to piece himself together. It's never once about the alien or the spaceship but becoming whole and one with oneself. And it so does that right in the end. (view spoiler). Remember: he's 15. That's how you rationalize. That's how I rationalized it all, too.

What Castellucci does in so few words is so powerful. It resonates. I only wish we could have gotten a little more. I would have loved knowing more about Mal in the after, wanting to know more about how he put what he figured out to use when he "comes back" to earth. I wanted to know more about Darwyn and Posey. But it makes sense why I don't. Because really, I'm Mal throughout the story and cannot possibly know more than what I figure out in those final, crucial moments.

I cannot, CANNOT applaud Castellucci enough for getting this so, so, SO right.

This is why I love speculative fiction.

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Reading Progress

March 11, 2011 – Shelved
December 14, 2011 – Started Reading
December 14, 2011 –
page 72
48.0% ""Hello and goodbye are not as simple as everyone thinks." sigh"
December 14, 2011 – Shelved as: ya-fiction
December 14, 2011 – Shelved as: read-in-2011
Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Great review Kelly.

message 2: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Also, I didn't know you loved speculative fiction in general...

Kelly Kimberly wrote: "Also, I didn't know you loved speculative fiction in general..."

Sometimes speculative fiction gets at truths much better than contemporary. I have to take it in doses.

message 4: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly That's one of the reasons I love it too! (I like the elves too though.)

Kelly I wish I could "like" that comment. heh.

message 6: by Amy (new)

Amy Excellent review Kelly--putting it on my list!

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