An excerpt from "everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too"

Courtesy of Jomny Sun/Harper Perennial

An excerpt from "everyone's a aliebn when ur a aliebn too"

July 11, 2017

An Alien Knows More About Me Than I Ever Will

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Be it often or seldom, we are reminded just how ridiculous our society and morals are. We get sad for no reason, we get grumpy, we’re ungrateful when we have everything given to us and treat each other like garbage. Jonny Sun’s illustrated novel, Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too, is all about the weird ways of “humabns,” the concepts they’ve created and the way that they deal with feelings, fears and each other.

Book cover

Courtesy of Jomny Sun/Harper Perennial

Book cover

The book is one of the few that are meant to be read from cover to cover, as the first and last pages contain Jomny the alien’s “activitey log,” which can be both a preface and an epilogue. Jomny, an alien who is not quite good at spelling human words, has been sent to Earth with a mission to meet and research Earth’s creatures, or “humabns.” Jomny wanders back and forth between the same places and makes friends with them as instructed. However, he comes to realize that each human he meets has a special set of fears, anxieties and emotions. His first friend is a tree that has “learned to stop giving things to sombody just because they want somthing” and goes on to teach him countless confusing things about what everyone feels, while providing constant emotional support.

As mentioned, each creature that Jomny meets has a specific set of problems, such as an owl that thinks he doesn’t deserve to be an owl because he is not wise, an egg that is worried about who it will become, bees who can’t make friends because they fear they’ll sting them and a dog who loves everyone but doesn’t know how to express happiness in words that everyone can understand. The book is full of rich allegories that any reader can decipher and appreciate right away, and they also become more meaningful once the reader thinks more. For example, a character called Nothing makes appearances, but once Nothing realizes that when it shows up everybody else leaves, it feels unappreciated and leaves, causing all the characters to become cluttered and chaotic on the pages. They all tell Nothing that they appreciate it and ask it to come back, restoring order. Such allegories hold a lot of meaning even though they are cute and easy to understand thanks to the bubbly, friendly illustrations.

In addition to the illustrations, Sun has given all of the characters greater depth by using a  unique fonts when one of the characters speaks. Jomny, most of the creatures and his alien colleagues all share a casual, soothing font, while Nothing has a thin, formal font, representing greater presence and meaning. No character in the book is trivial, which in itself is another metaphor. Sun has created a book full of nuance from cover to cover, from the “map of earbth” found at the beginning of the book, to the “About the fonts” and acknowledgements pages. If one were to dissect and understand each metaphor in its entirety, life would achieve greater meaning and we would all be less sad and lonely.

Throughout the book, Jomny’s alien colleagues visit him on Earth to check how he has progressed on his mission. However, when they find out that Jomny has befriended the “humabns,” they inform him that he is failing because he’s strictly supposed to be researching them, especially since their species functions perfectly without friends. Jomny spends at least 100 days on Earth and gets to experience loneliness, happiness, sadness, everything and nothing. However, he never finds the definition of “♥,” which is what a dog tells everyone he meets. One of the big ideas in the book is that some things can’t be defined, don’t need to be defined and don’t happen for a reason. Some things are better experienced than explained.

I hadn’t picked up a book since Darcie Wilder’s literally show me a healthy person, which could be frustrating and hardly a book to some, but I hold it very dear to my heart. Similarly, Everyone’s a aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too is mostly cute pictures and few words, which could make anyone question whether it should be considered “a book,” as the author himself anticipates. However, the few words in the sea of illustrations hit home, crawl under your skin and curl up in your heart to stay.

Viri Garcia is a rising sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at vg235@cornell.edu