by Kristen Randle
This is a superbly written young adult novel. One I literally couldn't put down. The characters and conversations are very realistic, the depictions of events and concerns in high school ring true. The Only Alien on the Planet is about a girl named Ginny whose family moves during her senior year. She adjusts to her new school and makes friends with the boy next door, Caulder. Before long another neighborhood boy catches her attention: Michael, nicknamed "Smitty." At school and home, Smitty never says a word, never responds when people talk to him, never changes his facial expression. Yet he's evidently very smart, earning As and scoring high on all tests at school. The other kids call him The Alien and pretty much ignore him. Caulder gets Ginny involved in a mission to discover why Smitty is always silent and get him to speak. At first I thought Smitty was an autistic savant, but it turns out his silence resulted from psychological abuse. Near the end the story started to loose its credibility, but by then I cared so much about the characters I could overlook the faults. A very intriguing and captivating story.
Rating: 4/5 ........ 228 pages, 1996