How long does it take to travel twenty light years to Earth? How long does it take to fall in love? To the universe, eight days is a mere blip, but to Matty Jones, it may be just enough time to change his life. On the hot summer day Matty’s dad leaves for good, a strange girl suddenly appears in the empty field next to the Jones farm—the very field in rural Pennsylvania where a spaceship supposedly landed fifty years ago. She is uniquely beautiful, sweet, and smart, and she tells Matty she’s waiting for her spaceship to pick her up and return her to her home planet. Of course she is. Matty has heard a million impossible UFO stories for each of his seventeen years: the conspiracy theories, the wild rumors, the crazy belief in life beyond the stars. When he was a kid, he and his dad searched the skies and studied the constellations. But all of that is behind him. Dad’s gone—but now there’s Priya. She must be crazy…right? As Matty unravels the mystery of the girl in the field, he realizes there is far more to her than he first imagined. And if he can learn to believe in what he can’t see: the universe, aliens…love…then maybe the impossible is possible, after all.
Eight Days on Planet EarthFeatured
What worked: I really enjoyed this tale that has a surprising twist on the whole alien premise. I didn't know whether or not Priya, the beautiful, mysterious girl, was in fact an alien. I was waiting for the spaceship to land and take Priya and Matty away. I liked that the author showed us the interactions of Matty and Priya and his own disbelief and cynicism. In the background, his father, an UFO conspiracist, has left his family. Matty has a very good reason to be cynical especially as he's witnessed first hand how his father has neglected him and his mother.
The bubbling romance between Matty and Priya starts off slowly. Matty fears that Priya is delusional or worse. Once he gets over his own concerns, he opens up to her. These scenes are poignant and bittersweet. Readers will hope that Priya's appearance will unlock Matty's fear of turning out like his father.
This is really a contemporary coming of age story where a teen comes face to face with his biggest obstacle (the anger he has on his father neglecting him). Only then can he make peace with his father and move on.
The final reveal isn't surprising but does help Matty face a pain he's been holding on to and finally letting it go. Bittersweet magical tale of loss and forgiveness mixed with humor.