Melt by Selene Castrovilla (Release Date: November 6, 2014)
I’ll stop the world and melt with you. I’m glad that song is referenced in this brutally violent tale of love and abuse. Melt reminds me more of Romeo & Juliet, than The Wizard of Oz, which is meant to be the backdrop to the story. Perhaps, that is because the author’s favorite writer is Shakespeare. The family strife, the forbidden love, the two souls loving each other so much they hurt and nag the other person to protect them from pain, and the self-doubt of that fragile love is definitely akin to Shakespeare’s tale. It’s a story I’ve never liked very much, even as a hormonal teenager. Replace the deaths in that story with violent abuse in this one.
This was an extremely hard book to read, tales of abuse are not what make it to my summer must reads, but I was given an ARC and found it a fast read. Perhaps, it’s the way the prose are used to express the Joey, the main character’s point of view, that make the book both intriguing and disturbing. He’s a wrong-side-of-the-tracks kid, who’s family has been held hostage his whole life by a cop, his father.
Dorothy, named after Dorothy Parker, is the strong, but also self-righteous main female character, who holds herself above the new friend, Amy, she has made, because she grew up in Manhattan so she will do whatever she wants in her new home in the suburbs. She wants Joey, allows her hormones reject any of the obvious warnings of his darkness, his own violent tendencies. She wants to save him but she comes off as being a nag to me. She gives Joey a copy of Catcher and The Rye for his birthday because Holden Caulfield reminds her of him. Aside from the economic differences between Joey Riley and Holden, it’s a huge insult. I would never give that book to someone I was in love with - we all know Holden is a broken mess.
Joey, of course, hates the book but reads it because she gave it to him.
Overall I found this book used the poetry device well, but it drove me crazy the amount of times the word “melt” was used. We get the point. Would I have picked this book up on my own? No. Did I find it interesting? Yes. It’s a dark tale. I liked the Joey and dated a guy like him. When guys tell you they are bad news and they are not going to change, they usually don’t, which is why I found Dorothy’s nagging him after he was upfront with her so annoying. The last guy I dated manhandled me once, we’re done. He was a fireman with more than a foot taller, with 50 pounds on me. It’s not okay to grab a woman. That’s real life, in this fictional tale, based on real life, Dorothy still pines for Joey. Naturally she would, he was her first love, but she doesn’t learn, she inserts herself again into harm’s way for a front row seat to more violence.
Dorothy likes to think she knows more than other people at sixteen, more than her parents, which is typical, but the first serving she gets of violence shatters her. Is this book advocating not giving up on someone? Saving someone who doesn’t want to be saved? There can be no positive ending to this tale in life or in fiction. No one is innocent, but inviting violence into your world because your hormones are on fire is avoidable and irresponsible for your own safety.
Am I happy to move on to Daniel Levine’s adult fiction novel Hyde next? Absolutely. Take me to Ole London Town to hear another kind of monster’s tale.