A lonely teen claims to have been abducted by aliens in this heartfelt offering by the author of Rose Sees Red (2010).
Troubled Mal attends two different support groups: one for teenagers with alcoholic parents and one for people who believe they were experimented on by aliens. His mother started drinking heavily after his dad deserted them six years ago, and shortly thereafter Mal went missing, to be discovered miles away from his home three days later. Already unpopular at school, his secret gnaws at him and makes him feel even more isolated. So when eccentric Hooper shows up and claims to actually be an alien on his way home, Mal hopes to convince him to take Mal on as a copilot. But the prospect of leaving it all behind the way his father did makes Mal seriously consider what he would lose and whom he would hurt. Mal’s spare first-person narration is wistful and raw, reflecting the feelings of anyone who’s ever felt misunderstood or abandoned. “I got lost and disappeared. For days. Sometimes I wonder which part of me came back.” Castellucci also creates vibrant secondary characters, including wise Hooper, with a minimum of words—a welcome relief in these times of bloated teen fantasy novels.
A simple, tender work that speaks to the alien in all of us. (Fiction. 12 & up)