First Day on Earth
by Cecil Castellucci
Review by Gayle Surrette
Scholastic Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780545060820
Date: 01 November 2011 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Mal seems like the typical troubled teen. His father left and his mother spiraled into depression, finding solace in drink. But sometimes the categories just don't fit. Mal acts tough. He dresses to fit the role he's been cast in. This is his story from his point of view and he observes those around him and he feel like he doesn't fit. He feels like an alien in a strange land and he's just trying to figure out the rules.
Ambiguity. I love it in books when it's well done. Castellucci has created an almost perfect ambiguous story. Was Mal abducted by aliens? Will they come back for him? Mal isn't even sure if what he remembers is real or some blip of his subconscious to help him deal with his mother drinking and his life.
Mal copes. He makes sure his mother gets at least one meal a day. He takes lost and injured animals to the shelter and helps out there. The vet is also the mother of the girl he has a crush on. He's got few friends and doesn't really know how to interact with them or how much to share of his life. He attends groups: AA, Al-non, Alateen, and any group he can find for alien abductees.
It's at a group meeting for abductees that he meets Hooper. Mal isn't sure how it happens but he ends up befriending Hooper. It's then that his life really begins to spin either out of control or into control. It's all about the ambiguity.
Will Mal ever fit in? Has he found his place on Earth? Has he let go of his past? Or even has he come to terms with his abduction? The reader is the one who gets to decide –- not in a chose your adventure kind of way, but based on the story Mal tells us of his life and the events of these days on Earth.