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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Melt by Selene Castrovilla ARC Review with Author Q&A

Melt by Selene Castrovilla
ebook, 276 pages
Published by Last Syllable Books
Publication Date: November 6, 2014
Buy It: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository |
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Synopsis: Based on true events, MELT is both a chilling tale of abuse, and a timeless romance. MELT will hit you like a punch in the face, and also seep through the cracks in your soul. 
MELT is a brutal love story set against the metaphorical backdrop of The Wizard of Oz (not a retelling). When sixteen year old Dorothy moves to the small town of Highland Park, she meets, and falls for Joey – a “bad boy” who tells no one about the catastrophic domestic violence he witnesses at home. Can these two lovers survive peer pressure, Joey’s reputation, and his alcoholism? 

Told in dual first person, Joey’s words are scattered on the page – reflecting his broken state. Dorothy is the voice of reason – until something so shattering happens that she, too, may lose her grip. Can their love endure, or will it melt away?

Thank you Netgalley, Last Syllable Books and Selene Castrovilla for my ebook copy of this ARC.

I can't say that I loved it, but it definitely held my attention. This is a story about love, family, and domestic abuse. All of which are truly heart wrenching. There are odd snippets from The Wizard of Oz inserted into the book but I have no idea why they are there or how it relates to the plot. The writing style reminds me of Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me, with the repeating phrases and poetic writing during Joey's POV. It's pretty short so it was easy to get over the things that bothered me about it.


1) I was sucked right into Joey and Dorothy's relationship. I did have some problems with it but once I got further into the story, I was rooting for them.

2) There was such raw emotion in this book. I could feel all the love and fear and the struggle of the characters.

3) I feel that this book gives a realistic view of domestic violence. Not just what goes on in the home but how others perceive it and how people are affected by it.


1) A lot of people write about love at first sight, and the main couple is really based upon that. Although I got into their relationship as it developed, I didn't buy into their instant attraction. When they meet, they don't speak to each other much but somehow they can sense each other's feelings, and I need a little bit more than that. Joey has all the signs of danger written all over him, callouses and bruises all over his knuckles, the reputation of being a druggie, alcoholic, and a jail bird. Yet, somehow, Dorothy can sense the good in him even though the two barely speak on their first meeting.

2) I didn't like how Joey's POV is written. I mentioned earlier that the writing style reminds me of Tahereh Mafi's Shatter Me, but it's only inside Joey's POV that it happens. His voice is written in this poetic style with repeating phrases over and over again. It does give a dramatic spiral downward effect that Joey has due to his lifelong physical abuse at home but it gets old really fast. Here are a couple of examples:

"She touched me she touched me she touched me and something warm crackled through my body"

"The white ceiling lights beamed down on my head bright bright bright."

This happened over and over and as I said, it gets old really fast. Don't get me wrong, in some of the places it really worked but in others... not so much.

3) The overuse of the word "melt." It's the title of the book and it is used what seemed like a million times over.

4) As I mentioned above, there are odd snippets of The Wizard of Oz inserted into this book. I knew it wasn't a re-telling of the original story but I didn't understand how these passages related to the plot. Selene Castrovilla actually sent me an e-mail to clarify my confusion.

Here is what she said: "I'd like to try and clarify about The Wizard of Oz. That story has always haunted me, not the literal story - but its ramifications. The threads of humanity lay in The Wizard of Oz. I've mentioned it in my previous novels, in passing. And not on purpose - the references came pouring out. It's a strange thing to be a writer. I feel like I'm a conductor for a universal force, flowing its communication to the world. Anyway, Melt isn't meant to be a re-telling. The passages I've quoted are meant to mirror and magnify the situation Joey and Dorothy are in, the journey they must travel, and the lessons they will or will not learn."

I understand that this is what she was trying to accomplish but to me, it didn't come across this way in the novel, at least not to me.

Selene Castrovilla has also been kind enough to provide me with a brief Q&A about how she became inspired to write this story:

Q: What inspired this story?

A: I take boxing lessons, and got close with my trainer, Joe. He told more than once, “My dad used to beat my mom.” That was sad, but a little too vague to be inspiring. Then one day he looked me in the eyes and said, “My dad used to come home every day and shove a gun down my mom’s throat.” That was a specific image that stuck in my head. He also told me about becoming a teen alcoholic, and how violent he was while drunk. He was tagged a “bad” kid – but no one ever bothered to find out what was going on inside. Finally, he told me about the one girl who believed in him, and loved him.

One night he said to me, “You’re gonna write my story. I just know it.”

I went home, and opened The Wizard of Oz – which I’d instinctively purchased a few weeks prior. I didn’t know why – but I always listened to the guiding voice in my head. The page I turned to was the scene in which Dorothy and her friends return to the Emerald City. The Guardian of the Gate is shocked to see them, saying: 

            “But I thought you had gone to visit the Wicked Witch of the West.”

            “We did visit her,” said the Scarecrow.

            “And she let you go again?” asked the man, in wonder.

            “She could not help it, for she is melted,” explained the Scarecrow.

            She is melted. That line resounded with me. I wrote it three times a piece of junk mail. Then I wrote, “Melt.” And I knew that was the title of my book. I started writing Joe’s story – it just came pouring out – with quotes from The Wizard of Oz interspersed. The first section is called “No place like home,” and we witness the father abusing the mother in front of Joey and his brothers. In “Munchkinland,” the second part, Joey meets good-girl Dorothy in Dunkin’ Donuts. This unlikely couple heads down the metaphorical Yellow Brick Road looking for a way to beat the odds and be together. But what’s waiting for them ahead?

Thanks again to Selene for taking the time to reach out to me to try to clear up my confusion, as well as for providing me with the Q&A.


  1. I really love this review in particular, especially coupled with the author's personal comments and explanations! :D