When aggressive xenophobia closes in, it’s time to record memories in a mysterious whistle, pile into an invisible spaceship and optimistically fly to another planet. Isn’t that what everybody does?
It is for Meggie Blue and her family when their tranquil life in North Carolina is interrupted by townspeople rightly suspecting them of being alien. Though their native tongue is unusual and they sporadically sprout glowing blue hair after a certain age, the Blues are far from threatening and adore the sanctuary Earth provided when pollution destroyed their home planet. However, with their lives threatened, Meggie and her family vacate unwittingly to a parallel world characterized by destitute outlooks, subliminal mind control and really boring clothes. Alternating narration between 12-year-old Meggie and her 14-year-old brother, David, White (best known for Southern coming-of-age realism) paves the way for a relatively broad audience. And though the dialogue has occasional unnatural tempos, these awkward bumps can be chalked up to otherworldly speech patterns. Hovering in the vicinity of ET, The Twilight Zone and 1984, the attractive science-fiction formula accommodates the familiar coming-of-age arc. More important is the underlying theme of originality. Meggie and her family repeatedly have to prove (even to themselves) that being different or just plain alien is more than okay—even if your hair turns blue.
A quirky commentary on age, environment, government and self-expression. (Science fiction. 11-14)