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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Call Me Madeleine by Kate S Richards


Climate fiction (or cli-fi as it is becoming more affectionately known as) is, like the planet itself, really heating up. The social commentary on the state of the global affairs has really permeated modern literature in a way that explores some of the ramifications of these change, and imagines a world where (often) science and technology meet the forces of the environment head on with some positive and, perhaps more regularly, some not so positive aspects. It’s not a new genre, certainly some may point to the dystopian classics and note the state of the world and its weather, its searing temperatures and cataclysmic events and note the prevalence of climate change even in a time when it was almost incomprehensible. There are even a few dissertations that talk of the Wells class War of the Worlds as a recognition of climate change.


Kate S Richards is a librarian and it comes through in the choices that she makes in her work. She is able to tap into the areas of interest for the students and demonstrate interesting plot lines that manage to feel familiar, and yet deviate from the often nauseating tropes of the genre. In her writing she presents characters that are rounded with conflicts that are both interesting and based in a sense of reality. There is a Christian element to the writing and it is present as you read through the text. However, it is not proselytising in its approach and often uses the actions of the characters to portray more of a moralistic approach, rather than explicitly using dialogue to push an agenda.


Call Me Madeleine sits in a wonderful little niche of YA fiction that is realistic and has the feel of the drama of everyday life, set in a climate of change that captures the push for adjustments by the young people. The rousing scenes of march action that begin the novel really have the feeling and emotion of a connection with the land that so many young people demonstrate.


Behind every good YA text there must be a romantic subplot, and Richards presents the romantic exploration for Madeleine (Maddy) with an old fashioned sense of connection between the young people. Enter Christopher, a young fella with the same dreams and aspirations as Maddy as they traverse this climate affected environment with a hopeful and energetic approach.


Maddy’s grandfather lives at MacTaggart Hill, depicted as a backwater kind of place in New Zealand where his views on climate change come to loggerheads with the vibrant and youthful approach from Maddy. In this conflict it is easy to see the connection for many young people.


Overall, this is a wonderful book for young people. It explores climate change in a matter-of-fact way while still maintaining a strong emphasis on quality story lines and believable characters with believable situations. It is easy to imagine a future in New Zealand similar to the one depicted in the pages of Call Me Madeleine.


Reviewer: Chris Reed

Green Room House


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