________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 22. . . .June 26, 2009


I Was a Teenage Alien.

Jane Greenhill.
Adams Basin, NY: The Wild Rose Press (www.thewildrosepress.com), 2008.
150 pp., pbk., $10.99 (USD).
ISBN 978-1-60154-443-8.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.

**** /4



Nicola pushed one of the round buttons on the wall, and the doors creaked into operation. The humanoid eating-machine rushed to close us up inside.

"Wait," I screamed.

But we plummeted towards the inner sanctum of Earth. Down, down, down we went at the speed of light or just about.

I opened my mouth to tell her I was going to get out and walk. My ears popped, and then a miracle occurred.

The doors slid open, and I saw daylight.

We were facing a large room filled with foresty plants and chairs that didn't look used. Sunlight trickled in through the wall's high glass.

I'd survived.

I pumped my fist in the air and locked arms with Nicola. Together we strolled outside. I swung my bag with my old clothes in it like I didn't have a care in the world. I didn't. I'd traveled through black holes, survived a hairdresser, eaten ice cream, done an endurance walk up countless steps, and finally lived to tell about my adventure in an elevator.

No wonder I was feeling a tad asteroid-lagged.


Oas (Older Annoying Sister) has to leave her home planet of Zorca-twenty-three via an asteroid and a black hole in order to find her brother Ralb on earth. When she arrives, Oas has become April, a typical teenager thrust into the world of earthling teens in Bedrockville, Florida. Her only experience of earth so far has been via television, and she finds that the reality is quite different! April must figure out a way to find her brother, cope with all of the strange people and circumstances she finds on earth, and then get both of them safely to their own planet. But, by the end of the novel, she realizes just how hard it is to leave her new friends and boyfriend and wonders if she truly wants to return home or not.

     Greenhill's novel is creative and imaginative. The world of Zorca-twenty-three becomes just as alive for readers as earth becomes for April, down to the smallest detail. It is a refreshing new fantasy world which will certainly capture the imagination of young adult readers. For example, two of Oas's friends accompany her on the journey. One is Rotsen, an argumentative plant who has a great deal of advice to offer, and the other is Lehcarr, a Venus Fly Trap. Greenhill has even developed a special Zorcan vocabulary. Once Oas/April reaches earth, we laugh at her astonishment about things earthlings take for granted, such as a visit to the hairdresser, a ride in an elevator, a modern bathroom. Here again, Greenhill demonstrates an ability to describe things in detail and from the point of view of someone who has never experienced them before. April's misunderstanding of what people mean and how things work and her ability to commit social major faux pas result in a very funny story. Vocabulary again plays an interesting role as April tends to get her earthling phrases a little confused.

      One can certainly find many themes within the novel. Oas/April sees how important it is for teens to fit in with their peer group and avoid seeming 'alien' to everyone else. And yet she realizes as well that it is important to be yourself and make your own decisions. Greenhill perhaps hopes to prod her young adult readers into taking a closer look at some of the ideas and values which have been imposed by their peers or by others around them or by the media and do some self-evaluating.

      But a thematic and in-depth reading of this novel doesn't seem to be the best approach. The book is a crazy and humorous adventure story with wonderful details from the fertile mind of Jane Greenhill. Her detailed descriptions of both earth and Zorca-twenty-three, and the zany adventures of the main character will keep even reluctant readers more than happy right to the final page.

Highly Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson, a retired teacher-librarian and teacher of high school English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON, where she has turned her love of travel into a new career as a travel consultant.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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