Melt is the third book by Ele Fountain.
‘I’d never realized how much of my world is covered in tarmac and concrete, and how rarely my feet are on real earth.’
As I stumbled across this quote in this tale of adventure and survival, my heart skipped a beat. I could not help but think that this observation was also symbolic of a theme woven throughout this story; respecting our planet.
Melt is the story of two young people from very different walks of life who are brought together by a high-stakes accident in the Arctic. Yutu, a resident of a remote Arctic village rescues Bea, the daughter of a frequent traveller who’s work entails signing off on drilling for oil. Her father gets embroiled in an unpleasant situation resulting in the brief break up of her family. Yutu lives with his ‘anaanatsiaq’, Inuit for his grandmother and sets out on a plight to hunt for seals and prove his skills in the traditional way. A way which is now under threat as a result of global warming.
Ele Fountain deals with the plight of these teenagers with sensitivity and understanding. Bea has to deal with changing home and schools on a very frequent basis and in the story, Bea has to cope with the cruelty young people can show to an ‘other’. Her character is steadfast and brave yet beneath it is a vulnerability and innocence. Bea has to grapple with the challenges of relationships and then the ultimate challenges of nature. Her loneliness, however, is remedied by her unlikely friendship with Yutu who brings a sense of humanity into her world. Further, there are very subtle references to signs of possible feelings young people begin to develop. Together, they are able to confront real threats.
Embroidered throughout the storytelling is beautiful and moving references to nature, our planet our relationship with both and the collision of modern-day with the past. Ele Fountain has managed to do this delicately opening up a lot of space for consideration and discussion about what really matters.
An absolute must for a year 6 book corner and a strong contender for a class read or English study text. A powerful vehicle for young people to explore their relationships with themselves, others and with our planet.
This title features in our Year 5 Reading Gladiators:The Ultimate Book Club selection.
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