Melt is a powerful portrayal of Inuit culture, traditions and how we are all shaped by the world around us. Questions about courage, friendship and standing up for what is right are key to the incredible life and death adventure at the centre of this brilliant story. The impact of climate change is described in an incredibly real way, showing how all of our actions result in day to day consequences for the animals and humans whose lives are dependent on the stability of the Arctic region. Lessons about the importance of family, learning from others, and respect for the environment and each other leap off the page as readers are carried away through the frozen north. There is no doubt that cold is the greatest enemy as it manifests itself in many forms.
Ele Fountain has crafted a dual point of view story that follows two very different teens. Yutu is an Inuit boy who lives in a remote village with his grandmother. She wants nothing more than for him to learn the ways of their people and grow into a contributing member of the community, all the while, keeping him safe. Yutu lives a life swirled with the old and new, the traditional and the modern. He loves playing video games but also wants to prove himself as a hunter and a part of the community. He dreams of leaving the village and finding out what else the world has to offer, yet he can’t imagine leaving his grandmother. Readers are presented with a fascinating window into the Inuit culture.
Meanwhile, Bea’s family has moved again and she must start over at a new school where she knows no one and struggles to fit in. The cold she experiences is the harshness of bullies and a longing to spend time with her busy father who is completely distracted by the challenges of his job as a geologist. When he suggests a weekend trip away in his plane, Bea jumps at the chance. However, a strange sequence of events leaves Bea alone and afraid. When she meets Yutu, they must work together not only to survive, but to make sure the truth is heard.
As a Canadian who has lived amongst, formed friendships with and taught many members of the First Nations community, I was pleased with the respect, accuracy and care with which the Inuit people and traditions are presented in this story. The reality of changing times, modern influences and the struggle to adapt whilst maintaining important traditions are challenging and are presented clearly through the wonderful character of Miki, Yutu’s grandmother. Both Yutu and Bea have so much to learn from their elders who are guiding them as they grow into the people they are meant to be.
Thank you to Pushkin Press for this stunning book! Yet again, I am so impressed with the strength and empathy of the stories Pushkin Press launches into the world.
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