Thursday, November 1, 2012
First Day on Earth by Cecil Castellucci
If you like: aliens * misfits * discovery
In First Day on Earth, Mal struggles to find his place as he deals with a father who abandoned him and the mental stress of an alien abduction in his past. He meets Hooper at an abductee support group. Hooper confides that he is an alien and needs Mal’s help to rendezvous with an alien ship that can take him home. Having never fit in, Mal hopes to join Hooper on his journey. Along the way Mal discovers there might be a few people on Earth worth sticking around for, and questions his own reasons for wanting to leave.
Mal struggles with a lot of the circumstances of his life. Though he believes wholeheartedly that he was abducted, he knows that this is a belief shared by only those on the fringe of society. In spite of this, his abduction shapes many of his interactions, and leads him to feel separate from those around him. The period after his father's departure is intrinsically linked with his abduction. In spite of the damage that the abduction has caused to his social interactions, Mal wishes to be taken away from the pain of his daily life. Meeting Hooper gives him hope that he is not crazy. At the same time, he realizes that Hooper exhibits many signs of mental illness, and Mal is conflicted whether he should believe Hooper or attempt to seek help for him. In the end, his offer of friendship and kindness leads him to the greatest adventure of his life.
Mal’s loneliness and isolation are painful. He seems to distance himself from everyone around him because he cannot express what has happened to him. Instead of welcoming the involvement of those who are interested, he rushes away from it. More than confirming his abduction, Hooper allows him to move past this. It is much easier to connect with an alien than with a human, and creating this bond allows Mal to open up for the first time. This new receptivity lets him connect with other humans in a way he hadn't done since his youth. Though they still do not understand his internal struggles, he realizes that he is not the only one with hidden scars. The most difficult part for any relationship is they very first moment of true connection, where the superficial niceties are pushed aside and the clarity of honesty forges an instant bond. In the end, it does not matter if Hooper is an alien or if Mal was abducted -- this journey has allowed a group of individuals to come together in a sincere bond that will outlast their journey into the desert.
If you would follow your heart out of this world, read First Day on Earth.
Castellucci, Cecil. First Day on Earth. New York: Scholastic Books, 2011. Kindle Edition.