Melting Season

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Overview

Giselle is a cultured ballet student, the daughter of the famous ballerina Marina Parke-Vanova and the late dance historian Grigori Vanov. On her first-ever trip to "Westchest-ah", as her mother's deranged boyfriend Blitz calls it, she meets the most beautiful boy she's ever seen. Will introduces Giselle to the world beyond Manhattan, and for the first time, makes her feel comfortable outside her perfectly protected apartment on Central Park West. But Giselle has some issues to overcome--and some memories about ...
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Melting Season

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Overview

Giselle is a cultured ballet student, the daughter of the famous ballerina Marina Parke-Vanova and the late dance historian Grigori Vanov. On her first-ever trip to "Westchest-ah", as her mother's deranged boyfriend Blitz calls it, she meets the most beautiful boy she's ever seen. Will introduces Giselle to the world beyond Manhattan, and for the first time, makes her feel comfortable outside her perfectly protected apartment on Central Park West. But Giselle has some issues to overcome--and some memories about her father that keep rising to the surface. With Will's help, Giselle must come to terms with her family's glorious--and not so glorious--past and focus on the future.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT - Claire Rosser
The cover illustration of a ballet dancer, done in the style of the Impressionists, introduces this fine novel well. Giselle is a dancer, the daughter of a successful ballerina and a famous dance choreographer. She lives an unusual life in Manhattan, attending a school for young artists, hating her mother and her mother's lover, still mourning her dead father. She seems stuck in obsessive behavior, unable to sleep away from her own room. Her story begins when she meets Will, a "normal" teenager from the suburbs, whose intelligence, honesty and love help her move on. Unfortunately, this is not done without a lot of pain. Will and his family have recently suffered a great loss themselves: Will's father has succumbed to PTS caused by his wartime experiences and he is seriously ill in a mental hospital. Therefore, when Giselle has a crisis one night, staying over in their home, Will's mother understands exactly how to help her. It's about Giselle's father. He had doted on her, it's true. But in his last illness before he died, he had turned violent, and these are the memories she has been trying so hard to suppress over the years, misinterpreting her mother's behavior. When she finally is able to "melt" and face the truth, she also grows as an artist, becoming a far better dancer than she was before. An interesting love story, concentrating on psychological factors affecting creativity.
VOYA - Snow Wildsmith
Giselle lives in a world of artists. She is the daughter of the famous ballerina Marina Parke-Vanova and choreographer Grigori Vanov and attends an arts school full of high-strung artistic teens. On the surface things are okay, but Giselle and her mother are still not over the death of her father. When her mother's boyfriend gets it into his head to drive to Westchester County, Giselle meets a boy far different from those she knows in New York City. Will's family has problems of its own, but his love and his help may be just what she needs to face the nightmares of the past. Conway's book is not perfect but shows promise for works to come. She tosses too much into her story-a subplot about Will's father is never fully realized, Giselle's friend's crush is dropped abruptly, etc. but the book still moves along nicely and keeps the reader's interest until the end. Characters are mostly well developed-except for Giselle's mother's boyfriend who remains as unknown to the reader as he seems to be to Giselle-and although their language is rough at times, it is consistent with their parts. Its problems render it an optional purchase, but it is nice to see a ballet dancer as the main character in a plot that is not about whether she should keep dancing. Recommend this book to fans of Carolyn Mackler's The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things (Candlewick, 2003/VOYA October 2003).
Children's Literature - Kathleen Isaacs
Frozen by her childhood memories of a father who died of cancer when she was 6, Giselle, a talented ballet student and daughter of famous dancers, falls for a green-eyed boy in a suburban garden shop. His sympathetic understanding helps her make changes in her own life, unlock the memories of her father's difficult last years, and move on toward adulthood. Woven into this gentle story of first love are plenty of details about a dancer's days, plus an interesting glimpse into a very sophisticated New York world. Giselle lives in an apartment overlooking Central Park big enough to have rooms she won't enter because of their connection to her father. She attends a private high school for professional young people, interestingly contrasted with the large suburban school she visits at Will's invitation. She is compulsively neat about her possessions and has never spent a night away from home. Appropriately for a story told by a dancer, there is a great emphasis on appearances; but the reader, like Giselle, comes to understand that both appearances and memories can hide a deeper reality. High school readers with an interest in ballet will be attracted by the cover, but will find much more to think about within.
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up
Giselle, a talented ballerina who attends a private school for the artistically gifted, still mourns her beloved father, who died several years earlier. Marina, her famous ballerina mother, has moved on and is involved with Blitz, whom Giselle despises. The teen refuses to allow herself a social life and spends what little free time she has immersed in idolized memories. Her friend Magda tries to bring her out of her self-imposed shell, but it is only when Giselle meets charming and handsome Will that she becomes interested in the outside world. Through her interactions with him, readers learn that Giselle's sadness stems from more than the loss of her father. She begins to remember incidents of abuse, caused by his pain-induced rage, and realizes that her resentment against her mother is unjustified. This coming-of-age story ends with the teen learning to hold onto the past while also keeping it far enough behind her to embrace the future. Her voice is sharp and smart as she makes cutting remarks about her "flaky" school and its inhabitants who are "so artistic it strains the mind," and her language is appropriately and occasionally crude. The world of culturally elite Manhattanites is aptly drawn. The plot may not be fast paced enough for some, but more discerning readers will enjoy its complexity.
—Michelle RobertsCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Giselle, daughter of a world-famous ballerina and a dancer in her own right, struggles to reconcile memories of her late father with her current reality. To keep her world in order, Giselle keeps a busy schedule between attending a respected school for the arts in New York City and training as a ballerina on the weekends under her mother's strict tutelage. After meeting Will, a sensitive and empathetic boy from the suburbs, Giselle's firm yet tenuous grasp on her life begins to loosen as he challenges her to let go of the past. Clear but disturbing memories of her father's illness begin to surface as she realizes some long-buried truths about her childhood and gains an appreciation for her mother. Allusions to the ballet about Snegurochka, the Russian Snow Maiden, may be lost on some, but they are beautifully drawn. Additionally, the highly cultured world of Giselle's family and friends will be foreign to many teen readers; however, this backdrop is original and the characters who play against it are interesting and intelligent. Well-written and urbane. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440239536
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 6/10/2008
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.13 (w) x 6.85 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Celeste Conway lives and works in New York. The Melting Season is her first novel. The author lives in New York, NY.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Read an Excerpt

I met Will Brooks in early Spring on what happened to be Medieval Day. That’s a big event at the flaky school I go to–The Dante School for “artistically gifted youth.” We are so artistic it strains the mind. And the Medieval Pageant is one of the most artistic, or as our headmaster, Chaz, would say, “intra-artistic” events of the year. We really knock ourselves out with breathtaking displays of talented giftedness.
This year’s theme was “Life in a Time of Death.” Which, in a way, seemed the theme of my actual life. Of course, in the case of Medieval Day, “Death” meant the Black Death; i.e., the bubonic plague (bacillus pasteurella) which, as you probably know, wiped out between one-third and two-fifths of the European population back in the fourteenth century. In keeping with the theme, all the various departments had to make some kind of artistic contribution having to do with how the people of The Dark Ages managed to amuse themselves and carry on while everyone was keeling over all around them. For example, the music classes performed a bunch of songs about the plague, including “Ring Around the Rosy,” which I found out was a reference to the rosy 1 pustules (buboes) that appeared on the skin of the unfortunate victims. The part about “all fall down” really meant die.
The art classes made a lot of gory-looking banners with pictures of dead animals on them, and the Creative Literature people delivered an original epic poem about a lark that flitted around the countryside eating berries and singing “tu-whit,” oblivious to all the dead mammals along the road.
As for my department, we did some court-type dancing which was actually Elizabethan and not Medieval at all. (I know that from reading A Dance through Time, one of the books my father wrote.) Believe me, he’d have yanked me out of this school even faster than he yanked me out of nursery school. Luckily, it’s not him but Blitz who pays my tuition, which is outrageous and obscene. Blitz is my mother’s boyfriend–a subject I’d rather skip right now.

“Methinks t’was the comeliest of festivals in selden a yere,” said Magda, who is my best friend, as we dragged into the Michelangelo Buonarroti Parlor where we had left our 20th century clothes and stuff. She had even liked Lunch, the big contribution of the theatre department–bread, bread pudding and lamb shank–which you ate, of course, without silverware.
“Methinks it was the goofiest,” I said, yanking off my ancient Greek tunic and looking at her in the Michelangelo Buonarroti Mirror.
“Yet ye must ownest that ye verily liked the torches.”
“The torches were great,” I told her. I verily wished she would start talking normal again, but after an “event” it always takes a while for Magda to break character and get back to being her regular self. And it was true; the torches she designed were great. With fans and flashlights and scraps of cloth, she’d made the illusion of actual flame. She wired it all into little cages made out of twigs that she’d woven with her own two hands. Magda wants to be a lighting designer, which I’m sure she will if, in the meantime, she doesn’t electrocute herself.
“Do you think Dark liked them?” she asked me next. Dark is short for Darkan, a guy in our school, an immigrant from some newly formed nation, and a cellist–one of the few music majors who can actually play his instrument. I met Will Brooks in early Spring on what happened to be Medieval Day. That’s a big event at the flaky school I go to–The Dante School for “artistically gifted youth.” We are so artistic it strains the mind. And the Medieval Pageant is one of the most artistic, or as our headmaster, Chaz, would say, “intra-artistic” events of the year. We really knock ourselves out with breathtaking displays of talented giftedness.
This year’s theme was “Life in a Time of Death.” Which, in a way, seemed the theme of my actual life. Of course, in the case of Medieval Day, “Death” meant the Black Death; i.e., the bubonic plague (bacillus pasteurella) which, as you probably know, wiped out between one-third and two-fifths of the European population back in the fourteenth century. In keeping with the theme, all the various departments had to make some kind of artistic contribution having to do with how the people of The Dark Ages managed to amuse themselves and carry on while everyone was keeling over all around them. For example, the music classes performed a bunch of songs about the plague, including “Ring Around the Rosy,” which I found out was a reference to the rosy 1 pustules (buboes) that appeared on the skin of the unfortunate victims. The part about “all fall down” really meant die.
The art classes made a lot of gory-looking banners with pictures of dead animals on them, and the Creative Literature people delivered an original epic poem about a lark that flitted around the countryside eating berries and singing “tu-whit,” oblivious to all the dead mammals along the road.
As for my department, we did some court-type dancing which was actually Elizabethan and not Medieval at all. (I know that from reading A Dance through Time, one of the books my father wrote.) Believe me, he’d have yanked me out of this school even faster than he yanked me out of nursery school. Luckily, it’s not him but Blitz who pays my tuition, which is outrageous and obscene. Blitz is my mother’s boyfriend–a subject I’d rather skip right now.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 7 of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2012

    This book was much better than I expected. It's about hope in th

    This book was much better than I expected. It's about hope in the midst of difficulties using a very creative character and setting.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2008

    Awesome!

    This was a very good book, I couldn't put it down! I fell in love with Will because he's so sweet and good to Giselle!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted July 16, 2011

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    Posted April 25, 2011

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