Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Truth About Martians

Savage, Melissa. The Truth About Martians
October 2nd 2018 by Crown Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Mylo lives with his parents and baby sister near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. His best friend, Dibs, is obsessed with Martians and comics, especially Planet Comics. The two boys spend a lot of time together, since Dibs' mother left home and his father is not coping well. Mylo has lost his brother Obie and also has trouble coping with his grief. When there is a huge, sudden flash of light in the sky one night, Mylo is sure it is a Martian flying saucer landing, and with the help of his  friends Gracie (on whom he has a crush) and Diego, he finds the crashed spaceship... and an alien. Of course, the army is ready to come and take away the wreckage for study, but Mylo manages to help the alien escape and hide her. His parents don't quite believe him, of course, and since the entire community is perturbed by the event and doesn't believe that it was really weather balloons, they think it's just his way of dealing with the things that have gone on in his life. Mylo and his friends know better, and do what they can to help, especially since the aliens manage to communicate with Mylo telepathically.
Strengths: As she did in Lemons, Savage does an excellent job of including details of life at this time, from overalls and hankies to Aqua Velva and church picnics. She also provides a good picture of the residents of a community, and shows how they work together in interesting ways, from Mylo's mother delivering bread to a neighbor to how Dibs' situation is finally resolved.
Weaknesses: The reason for Obie's death, and Mylo's grief about it (as well as the grief of a neighbor for the loss of his family), take up a lot of the story and slows it down. In 1947, almost everyone would have lost neighbors, relatives and community members in the war and might have been a bit more resilient. There probably wasn't a lot of grief counseling available, but Mylo certainly needed some.
What I really think: This reminded me a little of Mark Teague's The Doom Machine (2009) which I can't get to circulate even though it's shiny. I may wait to purchase this one even though the 1947 Roswell setting is fabulous.

Ms. Yingling

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