First Day on Earth is a YA contemporary novel by Cecil Castellucci.
Mal is on the outside and doesn’t care much about looking in. School doesn’t matter – why should it? He doesn’t care about grades, about friends, about what people think – about anything. Why should he? After all, he was abducted by aliens’ years ago – and he plans on returning with them the first chance he gets.
Of course, no one else believes him. They tell him that disappearing for three days and having no memory of the time period was just a breakdown, something explainable, something real. But he knows the truth. He has to believe it was more.
Otherwise he might have to stay in this world where his dad left his mom a broken shell, a woman who drinks the days away and is scorned by others. Otherwise he might have to live this life.
He needs to know for sure. He wants proof that he was abducted. He needs that hope.
Then one day at his abductee support group he meets Hopper. Hopper tells him something that might finally bring him close to the truth. Hopper might just turn Mal’s world upside down.
And Mal’s ready for it.
This is the second book I’ve read by Cecil Castellucci – the first being Boy Proof, which was surprisingly good. Again, she’s penned a beyond-the-ordinary contemporary novel that is one-of-a-kind and a little bizarre, but in a shockingly relatable way.
Mal is at times painfully bitter and self-pitying, but he also has this sense of compassion and desperate hope that makes you feel for him. And Castellucci is excellent at presenting the whole alien abduction thing in an objective way – you aren’t quite sure if you believe Mal, or if he did have a mental breakdown and continues this fantasy because of the dismal state of his life. It’s fascinating.
Without giving away any more plot points, I will say that I found First Day on Earth to be absorbing, inspiring, distinctive, offbeat, and charming in a minimalist, quiet way. It’s a very short book at only 150 pages but packed inside its words is a stunning, remarkable story very much worth reading.
And, oh my, the end? The end is incredible – and if you’re anything like me, bibliophile – it will leave you wondering for days later.