The truth may be out there, but the world from inside my house seems pretty comfortable. Overcoming anxiety and coming to understand and accept some truths about life feature prominently in Kerry Winfrey’s Love and Other Alien Experiences.
Mallory hasn’t left her house in over two months, after her father mysteriously left and she had a breakdown in the Cheesecake Factory, and anytime she sets foot outside her house, she experiences severe anxiety attacks. Spending most of her time in her bedroom, attending class via webcam and rewatching The X-Files and commenting on a space/alien related message board, particularly with the annoying person whose handle is BeamMeUp, Mal is surprisingly nominated for homecoming queen. Motivated by the cash prize for winning homecoming queen that she’s convinced could be the key to helping her find her father, Mal starts to more earnestly tackle her anxiety issues. As Mal explores further away from home and expands her comfort zone, she learns more about herself and the world beyond her home.
Infused with some delectable sarcasm and witty retorts from the clever cast of characters, the writing and presentation of those characters helps to make this story captivating. The narrative moves quickly, albeit perhaps a little too quickly toward the end, and is a thoroughly enjoyable and easy to relate to read. The romantic aspect of the story was a bit too blatantly obvious for my preferences, but it was still cute in the way it was presented and how Mal came to the (belated) realization. While there are some rather serious topics related to mental health discussed throughout the narrative, the optimism and sarcasm the characters have to view and deal with those issues, along with their meaningful yet light relationships with one another, helps to prevent the book from being too heavy.
Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.