Gather the Daughters
Never Let Me Go meets The Giver in this haunting debut about a cult on an isolated island, where nothing is as it seems.Years ago, just before the country was incinerated to wasteland, ten men and their families colonized an island off the coast. They built a radical society of ancestor worship, controlled breeding, and the strict rationing of knowledge and history. Only the Wanderers--chosen male descendants of the original ten--are allowed to cross to the wastelands, where they scavenge for detritus among the still-smoldering fires.The daughters of these men are wives-in-training. At the first sign of puberty, they face their Summer of Fruition, a ritualistic season that drags them from adolescence to matrimony. They have children, who have children, and when they are no longer useful, they take their final draught and die. But in the summer, the younger children reign supreme. With the adults indoors and the pubescent in Fruition, the children live wildly--they fight over food and shelter, free of their fathers' hands and their mothers' despair. And it is at the end of one summer that little Caitlin Jacob sees something so horrifying, so contradictory to the laws of the island, that she must share it with the others.Born leader Janey Solomon steps up to seek the truth. At seventeen years old, Janey is so unwilling to become a woman, she is slowly starving herself to death. Trying urgently now to unravel the mysteries of the island and what lies beyond, before her own demise, she attempts to lead an uprising of the girls that may be their undoing.Gather The Daughters is a smoldering debut; dark and energetic, compulsively readable, Melamed's novel announces her as an unforgettable new voice in fiction.

Gather the Daughters Details

TitleGather the Daughters
Author
Formatebook
ReleaseJul 25th, 2017
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
ISBN0316501409
ISBN-139780316501408
Rating
GenreFiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Adult, Adult Fiction

Gather the Daughters Review

  • Taryn
    July 24, 2017
    "Endure. I have done it and so can you.” Years ago, the ancestors escaped the ravaged Wastelands to colonize a small island and start a new society. They wrote Our Book to line out the strict hierarchy and structure that would dictate their lives. Years later, their descendants still follow their rules. Life in the agrarian society can be brutal, especially for girls, so the children are given a taste of freedom in the summer. They're allowed to run wild until they return home in the fall. As o "Endure. I have done it and so can you.” Years ago, the ancestors escaped the ravaged Wastelands to colonize a small island and start a new society. They wrote Our Book to line out the strict hierarchy and structure that would dictate their lives. Years later, their descendants still follow their rules. Life in the agrarian society can be brutal, especially for girls, so the children are given a taste of freedom in the summer. They're allowed to run wild until they return home in the fall. As one of the young girls is heading home at the end of this year's summer, she sees something so shocking that she can't keep to herself. The other girls are reluctant to believe her because it contradicts everything they've been taught, but the bit of forbidden knowledge begins to sow the seeds of discontent. Mother says she’ll feel different when she’s older, and Lenore Gideon told Vanessa she doesn’t have a choice anyway. Vanessa suspects they’re both saying the same thing. How could I resist a book described as "Never Let Me Go meets The Giver"? There were also shades of The Handmaid's Tale, Lord of the Flies, Kindred, and The Village (movie). I recently commented to someone that I've always been drawn to dystopian novels because I'm trying to recapture the feeling of reading The Giver twenty-five years ago. Gather the Daughters definitely rose to the occasion! I was so captivated by this story. What grabbed me most about Melamed's writing style was the subtlety. It was engaging because she allows the reader to figure out many things for themselves. The intricacies of these characters' belief system are revealed gradually. It deals with a disturbing topic, but it's not graphic. The characters talk about it euphemistically, so I wasn't immediately 100% sure if I was correct about what was happening. Admittedly, it may have been a bit of denial on my part. The controversial issue is spoiler-tagged in my first comment for those that may need to know. “ My whole life, I’ve learned to not question things. It doesn’t do any good, really. You usually learn what you didn’t want to learn, and still don’t know what you wanted to know.” A sigh. “I mean, knowing things, it can really hurt.” “But Mrs. Adam,” whispers Vanessa, clinging to the hand on her jaw, “what if the hurting isn’t the most important part? What if it’s not even worth considering?” She swallows. “What if you were going to hurt anyway?” The girls won over my heart completely. They have little control over their lives or bodies, but the cult can't control every aspect of their thoughts. Some of them are more rebellious than others, but even those that are reluctant to challenge the system still find their own quiet ways to rebel. In one touching chapter, the girls imagined the types of islands that might be out there. Their visions reflected what bothered them most about their society. There are four girls we get to spend the most time with:• Amanda (almost 15yo) - She was happy to be married so that she could escape her father. Now that she's pregnant with a girl, she realizes she's merely changed her role in the process.• Caitlyn (13yo) is meek, but has an inner strength that she's not even aware of. The entire community sees the bruises all over her body, but she insists her father doesn't hurt her. She claims she just bruises easy. When she witnesses a shocking event, her role within the group of girls begins to change.• Janey (17yo) is the oldest of the children. She starves herself to delay the onset of womanhood. She is fiercely protective of her sister Mary. Janey isn't scared of anything and that terrifies people. If anyone is going to be able to get through to the girls on the island, it's her.• Vanessa (13yo) is a curious, clever child. Her father's position as a Wanderer gives her rare access to books. I loved the interrogation techniques she used to extract information from adults. She questions everything, but thinks it's futile to entertain any ideas of escape.• Rosie (9yo) doesn't get her own chapters, but she's such a memorable character. She's headstrong and full of righteous rage. She mulls Mother’s impotent grief. A thought that Caitlin has been trying to suppress abruptly rises to the surface: if she leaves, if she is not there to stand in front of Mother and absorb Father’s violence, what will happen to Mother? But another voice, one that has been driven down even deeper, suddenly sings forth. She should be standing in front of me. In this book, the subjugated are trained to assist in their own subjugation. There are multiple signs that the women aren't happy with their situation. For instance, male births are celebrated while girl births are grieved. Regardless, they are willing to bear the burden for the good of their society because it's a part of life, just like the seasons. It's seen as disrespectful to the ancestors to even suggest changes. There's no room for dissent. By the time the girls are old enough to articulate themselves and fully comprehend what's going on, they're resigned to their fate. Women aren't allowed to congregate in large numbers without male chaperones. Many keep quiet because they have no opportunity to discover that they aren't alone in their doubts. The harmful ideas are so ingrained in their society that the dissenters begin to think that they are the ones who are defective. There's also the threat of divine retribution. Vanessa worries the ancestors will hear her thoughts and punish the entire community. It's repeatedly mentioned how important it is to prepare children for their roles, with some adults pushing to start preparing them at even younger ages. When the children of Gather the Daughters were singing a disturbing nursery rhyme, I was transported back to a scene in Kindred where Dana sees the slaves' children pretending to hold a slave auction. In that moment, she realizes just how easily people can be trained to accept horrifying things. “You have to talk to the girls again,” says Mary. “You have to talk to them about everything you know. Everything.” “I can’t. They’re too…too young.” “Wait for them to be old enough to understand,” yawns Mary, “and they’ll be adults. And then you can’t do anything.” The author Jennie Melamed is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who specializes in working with traumatized children. She explains her motivations for writing this book in the following article: Exploring a Cultish Culture: the behind-the-book story of Gather the Daughters (excerpt included). How does something horrific become an accepted part of a society? This book is an interesting exploration into the way cults operate and their methods of indoctrination. It also made me think about what parts of our own society are widely accepted but may be disturbing with some distance. The one thing I didn't love is that the ending. It left me a little wanting. It's a perfectly fine quiet ending, but I was left with so many questions. I can't help but hope we get another installment. Nevertheless, I'll be looking forward to reading anything Jennie Melamed publishes in the future. She discovers that grief is a liquid. It passes thickly down her throat as she drinks water and pools soggily around her food. It flows through her veins, dark and heavy, and fills the cavities of her bones until they weigh so much she can barely lift her head. It coats her skin like a slick of fat, moving and swirling over her eyes, turning their clear surfaces to dull gray. At night, it rises up from the floor silently until she feels it seep into the bedclothes, lick at her heels and elbows and throat, thrust upward like a rising tide that will drown her in sorrow. I received this book for free from Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. It's available now! 
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  • Heidi The Hippie Reader
    July 24, 2017
    Gather the Daughters is about a small community that lives with no electricity or modern conveniences on an island. They have a church made of stone that sinks into the ground and a holy book written by "the ancestors." These ancestors are saint-like founders who, according to tradition, fled the wider world to preserve the human race during an apocalypse.Traditions are dark and strange on the island, but not questioned because they were written by the ancestors.The tale is told from the viewpoi Gather the Daughters is about a small community that lives with no electricity or modern conveniences on an island. They have a church made of stone that sinks into the ground and a holy book written by "the ancestors." These ancestors are saint-like founders who, according to tradition, fled the wider world to preserve the human race during an apocalypse.Traditions are dark and strange on the island, but not questioned because they were written by the ancestors.The tale is told from the viewpoint of four girls: Vanessa, Caitlin, Janey and Amanda."From the fires of wickedness we grew forth, like a green branch from a rotten tree," he reads. "From the wastelands of want came the hardworking men of industry and promise. From the war-striken terror came our forefathers to keep us safe from harm." Like everyone else, Vanessa mouths the words along with him. loc 122, ebook.Because of the small number of people on the island, everyone has an assigned job- that they keep for life. Reproduction, meetings and courtships are also controlled by tradition.Sometimes the way things are done seem irrational or cruel, but the community does not change. Take the perpetually sinking church: "Every ten years or so, when the roof is almost level with the ground, all the men on the island gather to build stone walls on top of it, and the roof becomes the new floor. Vanessa asked Mother why they couldn't just use wood, but Mother said it was tradition, and it would be disrespectful to the ancestors to change it." loc 229, ebook.Similar to The Handmaiden's Tale, Gather the Daughters is ultimately about what happens when society dictates and controls relationships, sexuality and education through religious doctrine. It is also examines the male/female balance of power.Gather the Daughters is a gripping read. But not mysterious. It was fairly clear in my mind from the start where this story was headed, but I cared about the main characters. They have heart and I couldn't help but want them to live in a better world than the one they were born into.I could see this being a great choice for book clubs. There's plenty to talk about, especially with character motivations and the structure of society.Reader warnings: survivors of childhood sexual abuse could be triggered by this read. There are also some domestic violence scenes.Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for a free advance reader's copy of this book. Reminder: the short quotations that I pulled for this review may vary in the final printed version.
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  • Bandit
    January 19, 2017
    This book had me at cult. Seriously, I clicked the request button on Netgalley the second I read that word. I'm fascinated by psychology, especially the deviant sort and subsequently all things to do with cults. And this cult in particular was a doozie. How would something like that even be marketed? PaedoParadise? Now, that's just wrong, isn't it, to treat something as terrible as child abuse facetiously. And yet, the mind goes there, imagining the sort of individuals, referred to as ancestors This book had me at cult. Seriously, I clicked the request button on Netgalley the second I read that word. I'm fascinated by psychology, especially the deviant sort and subsequently all things to do with cults. And this cult in particular was a doozie. How would something like that even be marketed? PaedoParadise? Now, that's just wrong, isn't it, to treat something as terrible as child abuse facetiously. And yet, the mind goes there, imagining the sort of individuals, referred to as ancestors in the book, who would want to create such a place. Island community, inhospitable climate, low quality of life, exceptionally low life expectancy (as in put to pasture once one outlives their use, usually by 40), but there is socially acceptable rampant incest and child abuse. Nightmarish, isn't it? Also not really a thing to do with comparison titles used to lure the reader in. Talk about an advertising misfire. I understand the concept behind that strategy, especially when promoting debuts, but also it's lazy, generic and creates unfounded expectations. This book worked all too well in its own right. Genuinely frightening, increasingly so in a claustrophobic hopeless sort of way, especially toward the end. The author knows her subject well having studied and researched the psychological affects of child abuse and, judging by this most auspicious debut, she's also a very talented writer. This book is as difficult to read as it is impossible to put down. It raises all sort of questions. Questions that can even be applied on a larger scale. Can a society actually function by means of oppression? If the norm is too horrid to live with, what does it take to question it? Must the socially acceptable standard be unanimously socially accepted when the conscience rages against it? The daughters of the island have had enough, but finding the strength to rebel in a patriarchal structure where they passed from father (childhood to puberty) to spouse (puberty to their children's puberty) to grave (their children married off, no longer of use) is another matter. But surely that's just fiction, isn't it? In what world would women be treated worst than second rate citizens, more like a breeding stock/domestic aide, objectified, traded, punished, beaten, killed, raped? Of course not, whew, it was just a scary story. Pure fiction. Terrific fiction. Strongly recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
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  • ❀⊱Rory⊰❀
    February 24, 2017
    I won this book from the Goodreads Giveaways.I read this book in one sitting, unable to put it down, but it's taken me almost a month to write this review because although I loved this book, the subject matter is painful to think about. Though it's sensitively handled and there is nothing horribly graphic depicted.This story is about an isolated religious community that uses their religious beliefs (from Our Book) as the justification for the systematic sexual abuse and oppression of girls and w I won this book from the Goodreads Giveaways.I read this book in one sitting, unable to put it down, but it's taken me almost a month to write this review because although I loved this book, the subject matter is painful to think about. Though it's sensitively handled and there is nothing horribly graphic depicted.This story is about an isolated religious community that uses their religious beliefs (from Our Book) as the justification for the systematic sexual abuse and oppression of girls and women. The islands misogynistic, fanatical preacher blames women for every misfortune and enforces rules that control every aspect of their lives, even preventing them from meeting in groups without a male chaperone. The exception being the birth of a child.The people of the island have been told that the outside world ended in a fiery cataclysm brought on by sinfulness and is now a burning wasteland. Only a small number of men, the wanderers, are allowed to leave the island to bring back artifacts from the rubble. Unfortunately, what they bring back isn't terribly useful. There is no electricity, no machines and yet no horses or oxen that would make farming more efficient. One would think that the salvage of these valuable animals would be a priority, but instead farming is done entirely with human labor, resulting in a community of mostly subsistence farmers. Books are brought back but only a few men are allowed to read them.One of the girls, seventeen year old Jenny, who has been starving herself to avoid physical maturity and therefore forced marriage, suspects that the men of the island have not been telling the truth. She attempts to discover what is being hidden from them, and free herself and the other girls.I've seen many comparisons to The Handmaid's Tale and I agree. Both portray dystopian worlds where women are systematically oppressed in the name of religion. Neither book is happy reading, but both are compelling and important.The scariest part of Gather the Daughters is that what is done to these girls and women happens in now in our world. Look up Warren Jeffs of the FLDS church or the cult Children of God. An Australian man, convicted of repeatedly raping his daughter (and allowing other men to abuse her as well) when she was between the ages of eleven and thirteen, told police "It was fun while it lasted." A woman doctor in Detroit, Michigan was just arrested for performing female genital mutilation on girls in the U.S. The abuse of women and girls is a shameful part of human society, and nothing will change until we all decide that the female of the species has the same value and rights as the male.
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  • Zuky the BookBum
    July 11, 2017
    I was so interested in this one because it's ultimately about a cult. A cult who live on an island where very strict rules are put in place. Daughters are used to "comfort" their Father's during the night until their first bleed, then they get married off, Mothers are used for producing two children and housework. Sons help their Fathers in their jobs and Fathers rule the land.On the island they have a Bible / religious text equivalent called Our Book and within the book there are the "Shalt Not I was so interested in this one because it's ultimately about a cult. A cult who live on an island where very strict rules are put in place. Daughters are used to "comfort" their Father's during the night until their first bleed, then they get married off, Mothers are used for producing two children and housework. Sons help their Fathers in their jobs and Fathers rule the land.On the island they have a Bible / religious text equivalent called Our Book and within the book there are the "Shalt Not's", for example "Thou shalt not disobey thy father", or "Thou shalt not touch a daughter who has bled until she enters her summer of fruition". Living on the island is simple if you don't question or break the rules.For a woman to have a decent life on the island, there's only one piece of advice: have son's.If you can't already see what I'm getting at from my short description above, then let me put this simply. This is dark. Gather the Daughters is a very ominous, disturbed and often times uncomfortable read.Melamed's writing is stunning. The island she has created comes alive in your mind so easily with every description of the trees, the houses, the beach. The shadiness of the men, the melancholy of the woman, and the fear of the daughters can really be felt and you can almost touch the tension of what is looming, as it gets heavier and heavier with every turn of the page.I loved the use of the four different characters to tell a story. To begin with, it is a little confusing - who is who? But you get used to it very quickly! Each of the girls we follow are so well developed, we climb inside their shoes and exist as they do for the length of their chapter. Personally, Rosie was my favourite character of them all, and she wasn't even one of the main ones! That just goes to show how well structured every single girl in this book was... when you feel you can love a side character over a main one.I guess this book only gets a 4 stars because it wasn't entirely what I was expecting... and sometimes that's a good thing, your expectations are exceeded, but that wasn't the case for this one. It was a lot slower moving than I would have liked, there were panicky, heart racing moments, but not a lot of them, and I wasn't really satisfied with how everything ended. I don't want to say too much because of spoilers, but yes, not what I was hoping for.Would I class this as sci-fi? No. As horror? No. As a thriller? No. For me, this felt more like a general fiction novel with some more disturbing aspects than many of the others in the genre have.Overall, though, this is worth picking up to read. It's definitely uncomfortable to read at times and I did feel a little bit squirmish at what is implied throughout, but it's such a gorgeously written book and there are some excellent exciting moments. As this is Melamed's first book, I can see her going big places with more fiction in the future!P.S. If you don't feel comfortable reading books about incest / child sexual abuse please don't read this and then rate it 1 star because you found the subject matter difficult to read. That's just not fair.
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  • Nancy
    March 17, 2017
    Once there was a young wife who was making her first ham dinner. She carefully sliced the end off of the ham before putting it into the roasting pan. Her husband queried, "Why did you cut the end of the ham off?" "Because," the wife replied, "that's how Mom always did it." The husband suggested, "You should ask your mom why." So, when her folks arrived for dinner the young wife asked, "Mom, why do you cut the end of the ham off?" "Because," the mother replied, " otherwise it wouldn't fit into my Once there was a young wife who was making her first ham dinner. She carefully sliced the end off of the ham before putting it into the roasting pan. Her husband queried, "Why did you cut the end of the ham off?" "Because," the wife replied, "that's how Mom always did it." The husband suggested, "You should ask your mom why." So, when her folks arrived for dinner the young wife asked, "Mom, why do you cut the end of the ham off?" "Because," the mother replied, " otherwise it wouldn't fit into my roasting pan."We are sometimes slaves to tradition, chanting 'it's always been done that way.' We do not consider the reasons behind received wisdom and the custom of the country. When tradition has the church or government behind it, there is even less reason to question its validity.Once in a while, a rare mind arises that sees another possibility, a higher moral order; someone sensitive to the lives of individuals caught in a crushing system. They preach, they lead, they stand up against the system, and engender a new vision of how things can be.First, someone has to question why we do things the way we do.Presented for your consideration:An island with a small separatist society, refugees from a violent world consumed by war and fire.They have inherited a faith and laws from their founders. Like other tribal societies, their strict rules make their survival possible. There shall be no more than two children per family. When adults become superfluous they drink the potion. Dutiful wives and daughters are the foundation of society. Wives must submit to their husband, daughters their father.The daughters hate their lives. They dream of escaping their father's caresses, the early marriages, the horror of childbirth too often resulting in 'bleeding out' or delivering a mutant child. They wish they could enjoy their childhood summers of wild freedom forever.One girl resists, inciting a rebellion and setting off a chain of events that brings retribution and reveals horrifying secrets.Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed is a hard novel to read. The cult is so despicable and perverse, I was conflicted by what I was reading and physically felt stressed. The author is a psychiatric nurse practitioner specializing in traumatized children and child sexual abuse. She knows what she is portraying in the novel. And she does it very well.The novel was also compelling, with sympathetic characters and enough mystery to keep me turning pages. Without graphic descriptions, the author subtly implies the girl's hated realities.When I finished I asked what did the novel offer to redeem the horror I felt as reading? Why would someone read this book? What can it teach me?And I remembered the sermon illustration I'd heard long ago about the ham and the daughter imitating without understanding.This dystopian novel is a warning. Everything we do because it's the way people do things can be reconsidered. The Protestant Reformation, the American Revolution, the end of slavery, votes for women, Civil Rights--these movements all arose because a few people questioned and challenged the established order. But also we should consider the 'little' things we do. How we spend our time or our money. We buy a product without considering its human cost or environmental impact. We allow advertising to drive our purchase choices. I won't soon forget these brave daughters willing to fight for dignity and wholeness. May they inspire us all. Jennie Melamed lives with two Shiba Inus. I approve. I have two myself.I received a free book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
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  • Moe's Book Blog
    February 26, 2017
    When the country became a wasteland, several men and their families colonized a coastal island where they built a fundamentalist society based on worshipping ancestors, controlling breeding, and restricting all knowledge of prior history of the unknown wastelands. Only the Wanderers or chosen male descendants of the original ten families are allowed to enter the still burning wastelands to scavenge for debris.In this patriarchal dystopian society, as soon as a daughter reaches puberty or "fruiti When the country became a wasteland, several men and their families colonized a coastal island where they built a fundamentalist society based on worshipping ancestors, controlling breeding, and restricting all knowledge of prior history of the unknown wastelands. Only the Wanderers or chosen male descendants of the original ten families are allowed to enter the still burning wastelands to scavenge for debris.In this patriarchal dystopian society, as soon as a daughter reaches puberty or "fruition", her sole purpose becomes breeding. Daughters do not want to give birth to daughters so they will not have to endure the incestuous abuse they themselves endured until their first bleeding. When a daughter's children begins to have children, both parents are no longer deemed useful and are forced to drink the draught that will end their lives making room for future generations. The story is told through the differing perspectives of four daughters: Vanessa, Amanda, Caitlyn, and Janey. Vanessa is 13 years old and has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge about any tidbit of information beyond the suppressive colony. Amanda is not quite 15 and is married and pregnant. She has a mother who despises her and a father who loves her too much. Her only escape was to marry and get away from her family.Caitlyn, a rare first-generation child from the wasteland, came to the island when she was just a baby. Her father is a drunk and a her mother is a meek wallflower.Janey, a fiery red-haired 17 year old, does everything in her power not to become a woman. She doesn't eat much hoping to prolong her fruition and wants to seek the truth about what lies beyond the colony.This book was so great, I read through the first half non-stop. Seeing the colony through each girls' eyes was very interesting as the history of the wastelands and the mystery surrounding the colony was slowly revealed in bits and snatches. Not one of the girls was entirely happy and felt as if she were missing something but couldn't identify what that missing component was. Just a deep yearning for freedom. This debut novel by Jennie Melamed was spellbinding and riveting! I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars. Thank you NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair review. https://moesbookblog.wordpress.com/Reviewed: February 26, 2017. Novel Publish Date: July 25, 2017.
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  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 19, 2017
    via my blog https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/“This dream, the dark embodiment of blasphemy, is a shameful secret rooted strongly as a tooth or a fingernail.”Still catching my breath, weeks after reading Gather The Daughters by Jennie Melamed. Let’s just talk about the gorgeous writing, the sentences that created this cult-like nightmare world. This is how a writer should reveal the inner turmoil, from describing mutton that tastes like dirt and yet father eats with gusto, to one child hatin via my blog https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/“This dream, the dark embodiment of blasphemy, is a shameful secret rooted strongly as a tooth or a fingernail.”Still catching my breath, weeks after reading Gather The Daughters by Jennie Melamed. Let’s just talk about the gorgeous writing, the sentences that created this cult-like nightmare world. This is how a writer should reveal the inner turmoil, from describing mutton that tastes like dirt and yet father eats with gusto, to one child hating the marks on her body and how they give her inner secrets, shame away. There is no need to spell out anything here, it is bubbling all the time on the surface, it’s deadly hands are coming up out of the dirt and grabbing at the children. This novel is downright disturbing and I don’t pretend to know an author’s intentions, we read what will and let them play in our minds differently, we ponder the things that are said as much as unsaid. No one ever reads the same book! This can simply be a disturbing cult, stuck at the end of the world on an island, cut off from the so-called wastelands, it can just be adults full of lies creating a utopia that benefits men alone, or you can scratch at the surface and see the abuse in the very world you live in now.We are, all of us, little cults- aren’t we? If you really open your mind and think of your culture, country, city, family, circles then you can see it- those things that make us separate from the ‘wastelands’ in our own lives, the rules we create for the ‘better’ of our loved ones. The things we chose to believe, whether we act out on the account of religious beliefs or against believing in anything at all, we are still creating boundaries, truths, paths. I thought about the sickening world these girls, these daughters are gathered in (rounded up more like) and how they feel the wrongness at their core, even when suppressing their rage, it’s still there, even if it is in the form of fear. I pondered on the blind acceptance of the grown women, ‘oh well, it’s just the way things are.’ What is the purpose of the pungent drink mothers give their little girls? How could a mother be complicit, and what does it mean when you grow up in a world where it is expected, normal? Isn’t it always this way, maybe not as extreme- still… What is expected of women, what we’re meant to shuck in becoming mothers, or adults in this world, may not be as brutal and rotten as in this novel but there are parallels, my friends.I am not trying to be harsh on humanity, certainly parents must guide their children, certainly we can’t throw up our hands and believe in nothing, nor let the children run around as a feral creature, we have to exist in society don’t we? Even if you escape humanity and live off the grid, there are still rules to teach your children for survival. But there is living and there is blind acceptance. In Gather The Girls, bad things seem to happen the girls, women who do not accept the way, the ones who dare to question or look to the horizon for something different. What a brutal place! I tasted Lord Of The Flies in the children’s summers, dare I say I enjoyed far better the descriptions by Melamed as the children of her creation turn feral? Absolutely, that’s how gorgeous her writing is! What is going on here? What is this place? Is the rest of the world just a burning wasteland, if so- where in the hell do these newcomers hail from? Why do they have different clothing and shoes? Why won’t they talk of the outside world, much as the wanderers that salvage things from the wastelands won’t?The daughters, all the poor daughters suffer and it’s a disgusting act that is a father’s right, with girls so young. First you belong to daddy, then one wild season of frolicking, exploring your sexuality, then you better match yourself up with a man that you will now belong to, have a family, there is no freedom there is no choice. Then when you are no longer of use to the island and it’s people, you drink a draught and die selflessly, so others may take your place. Make room for the young! “She loved him until they blew out the lanterns, and then she wanted to creep away on her belly like something boneless and primitive.”There could days of discussions over this haunting novel. While most of our lives aren’t as torturous and full of abuse, the longing for running wild, climbing trees, rather than acting like a ‘proper woman’ isn’t lost on any of us. Who doesn’t want to taste the rain and enjoy the wildness of childhood? Shucking off freedom, behaving appropriately, accepting your due is a death unto itself we all go through. Luckily we have choices, at least the illusion of it. Our world can have limits we are blind to, much in the same way the people of this particular island follow in the footsteps of their forefathers. It’s not easy to see the wrongness of your world if you can never leave it, if there isn’t anything different to compare it to. I am reminded of those of us that travel, how we never come back the same, nothing has changed in our old haunts, our perception is altered. Mind you, one needn’t travel to other countries, look around you- the world is connected now and ignorance is never an excuse. God bless the misfits, the outcasts, those who deviate from the norm because through them we question everything we accept as truth, through them we can see past our smallness in this vast universe, and maybe question the self-appointed dictators in our lives. Gather The Daughters has it’s own fiery haired misfit, Janey- who fights even nature to escape the ways of her people.This novel is so good, and I wish I could write about the girls more but I hate ruining the pleasure for others. I am curious to probe others thoughts and opinions on this. I think I’ll be forcing it on a few friends so we can chew on one another’s insights. Oh my gosh, yes- read it. I went through so many emotions, anger, disgust, hope, excitement, and the end- the ending… oh…. Gorgeous summer reading!Publication Date: July 25, 2017Little, Brown and Company
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  • Liz Barnsley
    June 28, 2017
    Ok I'm going to go slightly off the reservation for this one which seems to be very popular. I didn't like it.Having said that Gather The Daughters has an awful lot going for it - not least in the writing skill. I can't fault Jennie Melamed's writing and if she had been telling almost any other story I'd probably be 5* raving right now. And she plots beautifully and it's some hard hitting stuff. So to everyone else I say give it a go.Me? I read it all quite quickly but not because I was loving i Ok I'm going to go slightly off the reservation for this one which seems to be very popular. I didn't like it.Having said that Gather The Daughters has an awful lot going for it - not least in the writing skill. I can't fault Jennie Melamed's writing and if she had been telling almost any other story I'd probably be 5* raving right now. And she plots beautifully and it's some hard hitting stuff. So to everyone else I say give it a go.Me? I read it all quite quickly but not because I was loving it, simply to see where it went. The premise is sound - a post apocalyptic made society where women are subservient, the men rule, incest is rife and you all are expected to drink the drink of doom at (what in our society) is a very young age and make way for the next generation - who can then presumably continue to be ruled by the men and have their Father's jump into bed with them. It just felt very rip off of such things as Margaret Attwood et al who have done this type of story before and to my mind definitively.That's not to say there is not room for "Gather the Daughters" on this literary tree- especially at the skill level this author is producing - hence I imagine why so many glowing reviews. But I do believe it will be very subjective - for me I've considered all the themes in "Daughters" before and in this case I didn't really engage much with any of the characters who all felt the same, like a robotic production line of girls. It became vaguely more interesting as a low level rebellion began but never really took off for me. The setting and the world is well imagined and well described, but the only reason I finished this one was because I was enjoying the wordplay. For that reason I'm certainly interested in what this author does next.This one though? Nope. Didn't hit me at all in the places it was aiming for. I feel randomly guilty about that.
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  • Claire Fuller
    June 16, 2017
    This debut has a fascinating premise: a society has been living on an isolated island for hundreds of years, keeping away from the 'wastelands' where fires have destroyed nearly everything. The island families live in ways passed down by the ancestors, and designed to keep girls and women in their place: as child-rearing home-makers. Some of the 'rules' a few readers might find hard to take, but I liked how Melamed worked the world she created. I really enjoyed the girls' rebellion, but somehow This debut has a fascinating premise: a society has been living on an isolated island for hundreds of years, keeping away from the 'wastelands' where fires have destroyed nearly everything. The island families live in ways passed down by the ancestors, and designed to keep girls and women in their place: as child-rearing home-makers. Some of the 'rules' a few readers might find hard to take, but I liked how Melamed worked the world she created. I really enjoyed the girls' rebellion, but somehow hoped for more from it. And although I think this is a really strong debut I was worried about how the mental (and therefore physical) illness of one of the heroines could be taken as positive. Sorry to be so cryptic, but you'll just have to read it and tell me what you think.
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  • The Book Satchel
    July 20, 2017
    In an island, far away from the rest of the world, ten men and their families start a new life. They have strict religious beliefs and stringent societal rules. One summer, a girl sees something – rumours spread and the daughters gather. The group of girls start thinking and questioning everything. Melamed has written a brilliant debut. I read the book with a thumping heart because the societal rules of the island are so different from that of our world. What is wrong for us may be right for the In an island, far away from the rest of the world, ten men and their families start a new life. They have strict religious beliefs and stringent societal rules. One summer, a girl sees something – rumours spread and the daughters gather. The group of girls start thinking and questioning everything. Melamed has written a brilliant debut. I read the book with a thumping heart because the societal rules of the island are so different from that of our world. What is wrong for us may be right for them and vice verse. I had nightmares thinking what if this is a possible reality?I loved the underlying commentary that runs throughout the story about what is truth? Where does truth begin and blind dogma end? How do we know what is right and wrong? What is normal and what is not?This is a book that will make you restless and give you nightmares. There is nothing described very graphically as to make you uncomfortable but with subtle sentences, Melamed succeeds in sending chills all over your spines.Rating - 4.5/5 starsFull review - http://www.thebooksatchel.com/gather-... Disclaimer : Much thanks to Tinder Press for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.
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  • Susan
    April 30, 2017
    Set on an isolated island, this is a deeply unsettling read about this secluded community of people. There is no animal larger than a sheep on the island, where the inhabitants spend their time farming, carving or tending to their crops. Lives are governed by numerous rules, which comes from the ‘ancestors’ who first founded the community and it is an extremely patriarchal society. Just how little control women, and girls, have, is unfolded gradually as we learn the stories of the girls who live Set on an isolated island, this is a deeply unsettling read about this secluded community of people. There is no animal larger than a sheep on the island, where the inhabitants spend their time farming, carving or tending to their crops. Lives are governed by numerous rules, which comes from the ‘ancestors’ who first founded the community and it is an extremely patriarchal society. Just how little control women, and girls, have, is unfolded gradually as we learn the stories of the girls who live there and learn what is expected of them. It is a society built on rules and myths, but mostly it is built on secrets. The only men who leave the island are the ‘wanderers,’ who venture to the ‘wastelands,’ and return with goods – such as paper, or even animals, which the families on the island can use. There are all sorts of theories as to why the islanders cannot go there themselves and these range from raging fires, to plague to the belief that the outside world is simply dangerous and cannot support life. Still, some of the girls who live on the island are naturally curious and some, dangerously, are unwilling to accept the life that has been mapped out for them. For girls, their life is one of subservience and ritual, which involves marriage and trying to bear healthy children as soon as their ‘summer of fruition ‘ arrives. Most dread this, while others are equally keen to flee their homes and trust that marriage will not be so bad. Either way, the girls feel trapped between the control of fathers and future husbands. Their only escape comes in the summer, when children on the island are allowed to roam free. With the ending of summer, they return to their homes, chastened and depressed. Yet, as some of the girls endlessly question the way things are, it seems that the community these men have created for their own gratification begins to unravel – knowledge is always power and the girls want to take some power back into their own hands… This is an excellent, interesting and moving novel, with great characters. The subject matter is disturbing, but it is handled sensitively and I think it would be perfect for book groups, with so much to discuss.
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  • Jordan
    July 14, 2017
    Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!This book was insane. Insane in the sense that the cult in this book is unbelievable yet completely believable and terrifying all at the same time. I may be at risk of repeating myself, but the best word to describe this book is simply haunting. As much as I try to shy away from comparing books to other books, I will say that if you like The Handmaid's Tale on account of the basic themes and ideas it espouses, then I'm almost positive that you will Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!This book was insane. Insane in the sense that the cult in this book is unbelievable yet completely believable and terrifying all at the same time. I may be at risk of repeating myself, but the best word to describe this book is simply haunting. As much as I try to shy away from comparing books to other books, I will say that if you like The Handmaid's Tale on account of the basic themes and ideas it espouses, then I'm almost positive that you will like this one. Honestly, I like this book way more than The Handmaid's Tale.Gather the Daughters is about a cult living on an island separated from any other place. A full synopsis can be found on Goodreads, but the basic notion is that the daughters of all the men on this island essentially have one function: to be wives and have children. The men in charge essentially have free reign, and the customs that occur between men and their children, and between men and their future wives, are a bit... disconcerting.Melamed herself is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who specializes in child trauma, and her vast knowledge of this topic plays very much into the contents of this book. She knows what she is doing, and I think that she handles these terrible circumstances and events in a deft, thoughtful, and realistic manner.The four main women that this story focuses on are Vanessa, Caitlin, Janey, and Amanda. Each girl brings a unique perspective to the story as each one begins to question just how far one should go to question the traditions and norms of a culture. Should one even do so? Each one of these girls seems to question this notion in their own way, and each one carries out these feelings to varying degrees. Janey is a strong-willed girl who tries to have as much control over her own life and body as she can in this society -- which, sadly, isn't much. She refuses to become a woman and thus tries to stave it off by refusing to eat and preventing her body from going through puberty. She tries to enlighten the other girls to realize what is happening and that maybe they can change it. Caitlin is quiet, but vital. Vanessa is obedient overall, but she isn't afraid to push buttons and try to find out more about the goings-on of the island. And then there's Amanda, who knows something is off but doesn't know what and slowly begins to develop her own conclusions, which are vehemently opposed by those (the men) in charge.This is a book that has ended up on my favorites list not because it was necessarily fun to read, but because I was completely engrossed with it and it will stick with me. This is a book that will grab you and haunt you and stay with you. I had the hardest time putting this book down, despite how alarmed I was at some of the things that happened. The ideas and cult itself in this book are a bit scary and really make you think. What does it take to end with a cult-like society like this? Just how easy is it truly to brainwash others? It teaches you to be self-aware, to question, to be ready to take a stand, even though the result of that stand might not turn out to have positive consequences.Despite how terrifying and preposterous some of the norms in this book are, what makes it so gripping and captivating is how conceivable it actually could be. Do I actually think something like this could happen? Not necessarily in general society, but I don't doubt for a second that there are people capable of this. I know that women have often been perceived as having little worth other than for childbearing or being the 'dutiful wife.' And that's what is so captivating about this story. It's real.Melamed's writing is also very gripping, beautiful and haunting at the same time. She crafts her words so carefully. It's a calm, subtle prose, but one that moves by so quickly and paints the scenes so effortlessly that you feel as if you are right there in the story, part of the horrors that are everyday life there. There was also something oddly poetic about the POV changes Melamed used. Sometimes there would be three chapters in a row of the same characters, sometimes it would switch consistently. It was almost like she knew when I would want to keep reading about one characters and when I wanted to try others.Overall, Gather the Daughters get five stars from me!
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  • Lindsay Williams
    July 26, 2017
    Full review coming as soon as I can process all the emotions. Because this book....my word. ALL. THE. EMOTIONS!
  • Jessica
    July 24, 2017
    Big thanks to Little Brown, Company for the copy in exchange for my honest review. This book was completely a cover request from me. I saw this beautiful cover and I needed it. Then I read the description and there's mention of a cult? Count me in! GATHER THE DAUGHTERS by Jennie Melamed is about an isolated island with a colony of families - they fled there just before the country was incinerated into a wasteland. These families built a society on a small island - a society of ancestor worship, Big thanks to Little Brown, Company for the copy in exchange for my honest review. This book was completely a cover request from me. I saw this beautiful cover and I needed it. Then I read the description and there's mention of a cult? Count me in! GATHER THE DAUGHTERS by Jennie Melamed is about an isolated island with a colony of families - they fled there just before the country was incinerated into a wasteland. These families built a society on a small island - a society of ancestor worship, controlled breeding, and "the strict rationing of knowledge and history". There are strict rules as to who can leave the island - known as the Wanderers - are the male descendants of the original ten. While they can leave, the daughters of these men are considered wives-in-training. With their many traditions, one is that when the first sign of puberty hits, they are to face their Summer of Fruition. This is a time when they get to live wildly and free of their parents.After young Caitlin witnesses something truly horrifying, she feels that she must tell others. Not just because of how awful it was, but because it completely went against their laws and way of life. Upon learning of the events, Janey Solomon steps up to find the truth. Janey is slowly starving herself - this way she can avoid showing that she's maturing. Once matured then she will immediately be forced into marriage and then down the path to having children until she's no longer useful. She is determined to find the truth about the island and she knows that the men are hiding something from the girls. Will she be able to save the rest of the girls from their fates?I'll say right off the bat, this book depicts a lot of events and actions that not all readers will be able to stomach. Lots of incest, sexual assault, and domestic violence. While unpleasant to read, it really sets the tone to show the reader how truly horrifying this cult is. I commend the author, because she did her homework on the psychological effects these have on the victims, and it definitely shows. One thing I couldn't believe was how when the women were considered "no longer useful" they had something called their final draught and then they died.Melamed's writing is incredible and she created a book where you just couldn't put it down because you wanted to know the next unspeakable things the men were going to do. We read through the eyes of four different girls, Vanessa, Caitlin, Janey and Amanda. You instantly connect with these girls and feel for them. Knowing what they'll have to endure after their summer of living freely really sets the tone. Reading through their eyes in regards to the events they witness and experience is captivating.I have seen a few titles that people have compared this book to, and I'd say the only one I agree with is THE HANDMAID'S TALE. So, if you're a fan of that book and can stomach the acts that I previously mentioned, then this compulsive read is definitely the book for you this summer.I give this one 5/5 stars!
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  • Denise
    June 28, 2017
    OK then -- if ever there comes a day when I'm in charge of book publishing (!), I will make a rule that decrees that NON-ENDINGS are not allowed. That's what we've got here, so be prepared. I have seen comparisons to THE GIVER (with its ambiguous conclusion) but this reminds me a little more of THE HANDMAID'S TALE as the island cult completely re-engineers the role of women and girls in the world the author created.Is this a cult or just a fringe group of lunatics gone mad -- or is that the same OK then -- if ever there comes a day when I'm in charge of book publishing (!), I will make a rule that decrees that NON-ENDINGS are not allowed. That's what we've got here, so be prepared. I have seen comparisons to THE GIVER (with its ambiguous conclusion) but this reminds me a little more of THE HANDMAID'S TALE as the island cult completely re-engineers the role of women and girls in the world the author created.Is this a cult or just a fringe group of lunatics gone mad -- or is that the same thing? Years ago, ten "ancestors" brought men and women to this island and created a society where men rule. So much so that fathers lie with daughters as a matter of course. Women are meant for childbearing and little else. Well, in this book, as is to be expected, the young girls start a rebellion. Not the wives -- the children. It would all be totally fascinating if it weren't so difficult and near impossible to change the ways of men who are enjoying their little world and total control. This was a dark novel and quite depressing, actually, to think that there could possibly a place where this kind of thing would go on. The outside world is forbidden to these island inhabitants who have absorbed the lies of the ancestors into a holy book with lots of "shalt nots" designed to keep them from curiosity. Certain men go to the real world, the "wanderers", but it's pretty much a self-contained microsm of in-breds. Did I like this? I am still grappling with that. It was interesting, but terribly scary to think about considering that I have 2 daughters so it horrifies me to think of a world like this. It's a debut so the big questions aren't really answered and the storyline told by several different narrators (some of the girls) isn't complete in scope or depth.. I will imagine it ended how I hope and, as a feminist, I truly believe that this novel would provide a nice framework for lots of book club discussion. I don't see this title as appealing to men, alas, so probably won't get too much feedback there. Fathers and daughters UGH. The male characters were very loosely developed and seemed stereotypical and one-dimensional. When or if you read this, PLEASE let me know your thoughts!Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the e-book to read and review.
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  • Jessica Gordon
    March 22, 2017
    If you love incest, this book is for you! But if you aren't comfortable with incest, you may want to avoid it. Haha. Just kidding! Well, there IS incest, but it's not graphic, just referred to throughout. In sum, there is an island where families escaped after humanity destroyed itself somehow. The descendants of the original islanders look up to their forefathers, who they call "ancestors," and they pray to them and ritualize them in all kinds of freakish ways. However, lo and behold, it turns If you love incest, this book is for you! But if you aren't comfortable with incest, you may want to avoid it. Haha. Just kidding! Well, there IS incest, but it's not graphic, just referred to throughout. In sum, there is an island where families escaped after humanity destroyed itself somehow. The descendants of the original islanders look up to their forefathers, who they call "ancestors," and they pray to them and ritualize them in all kinds of freakish ways. However, lo and behold, it turns out that not everything the ancestors told the people to do is really for the people's own good, and a group of girls discover the trickery and try to expose it. Along the way, the reader learns about each girl through a series of alternating chapters devoted to her. I enjoyed the read. Not the best or the worst book I've read this year.
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  • Laura Lacey
    February 28, 2017
    3.5 starsI love a cult! The psychology of it all fascinates me, so I had to request this book. Melamed offers a horrifying look into a society shut off from the rest of the world. What has happened to the rest of humanity? How much do the adults of the island know? Girls and women are treated horrendously in this small rustic community. The female inhabitants are used and abused by their families for 'their own good'. They get summers away from their suffering where it all gets a bit Lord of the 3.5 starsI love a cult! The psychology of it all fascinates me, so I had to request this book. Melamed offers a horrifying look into a society shut off from the rest of the world. What has happened to the rest of humanity? How much do the adults of the island know? Girls and women are treated horrendously in this small rustic community. The female inhabitants are used and abused by their families for 'their own good'. They get summers away from their suffering where it all gets a bit Lord of the Flies, but otherwise their bodies are completely controlled. Overall a really interesting premise, a disturbing slow-burner of a novel; but didn't quite deliver at the end. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in return for an honest review.
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  • Tonstant Weader
    June 26, 2017
    Vanessa, Amanda, Caitlin, and Janey. They are some of the daughters in Jennie Melamed’s stunning debut novel Gather the Daughters. Classified as science fiction, Gather the Daughters transcends genre classification with its universal themes and its ambiguity. Ostensibly, it takes place after a catastrophic societal collapse that leaves the world a burning husk known as the Wastelands. Long ago, ten families, known and worshipped as The Ancestors fled that downfall with this small remnant of huma Vanessa, Amanda, Caitlin, and Janey. They are some of the daughters in Jennie Melamed’s stunning debut novel Gather the Daughters. Classified as science fiction, Gather the Daughters transcends genre classification with its universal themes and its ambiguity. Ostensibly, it takes place after a catastrophic societal collapse that leaves the world a burning husk known as the Wastelands. Long ago, ten families, known and worshipped as The Ancestors fled that downfall with this small remnant of humanity, founding a new society on an island where their descendants live today.This review is also posted on my blog: Tonstant Weader ReviewsThis is ambiguous though. Caitlin’s family immigrated from the Wastelands, refugees. While Caitlin remembers nothing from her long ago childhood, clearly there are some people who still live. Moreover, the most valued men on the island are the wanderers who travel to the Wastelands and forage in the wreckage of useful goods. We’re supposed to believe they are taking their lives in their hands, heading back into the raging fires of the end of the world as we know it, but for all we know, they could just be going to Walmart, which is kind of the same thing. No one talks about the Wastelands…which makes it seem as though their history may be unreliable.Vanessa, Amanda, Caitlin, and Janey. These four young women dare to question the social order. This is a patriarchal society in the extreme. While children, they have their summers free, wildly free, but then, the summer of their menarche, they must go through fruition, a sort of male-female sexual sorting that ends in marriage. They are then allowed to have two children and when those children grow up and have children, they are expected to get out of the way by drinking the final draft so their kids can move into their house – good grandparents are dead grandparents.Amanda has already reached menarche and through her we discover exactly what happens at fruition. She is married and pregnant and in a shockingly violent scene learns she is carrying a girl. This devastates her because she does not want to bring another girl into this miserable life they all endure. Janey is the same age, but she is starving herself to avoid fruition and marriage. Caitlin’s life is perhaps the hardest, her father is cruel and abusive and her arms are always covered with bruises. Vanessa’s probably the luckiest, a kind, generous father who brings her books from the Wastelands…stories of the world before its destruction.Vanessa, Amanda, Caitlin, and Janey. These are brave young women – girls, really – by our standards. But their society does not value girls or women other than as servants of their fathers and then their husbands. As adults, women are not allowed to meet in groups of more than three without a male chaperone. But for Vanessa, Caitlin, and Janey, they have a final summer and Janey challenges them to resist, to ask if things could be different, to break the rules.I loved and hated Gather the Daughters. It made me squirm and I found it very disturbing, not because the story was too outlandish, but because it seems too credible, too possible. In some ways, this culture is a natural continuation of disturbing patriarchal phenomenon in our society. Look at the growth in father-daughter vows, ceremonies where daughters pledge themselves to their father’s until marriage, even wearing rings as a symbol of that pledge. Now imagine a similar mother-son ceremony. It would never happen and people would see it as revolting and unnatural, but the reverse is celebrated. That shows how deeply as a society we accept men as the owners of their wives and daughters. This possible future is not improbable.The prose is so beautiful, too. When Vanessa is sitting in her classroom, a classroom that is too empty with so many children affected by an epidemic that ripped through the village, “she discovers that grief is a liquid. It passes thickly down her throat as she drinks water and pools soggily around her food. It flows through her veins, dark and heavy, and fills the cavities of her bones until they weigh so much she can barely lift her head.” It continues in one of the truest, most visceral descriptions of how grief can overwhelm us I have ever read.This book is about how societies define norms. Often norms are oppressive and unjust and when that is so, societies often work harder to enforce them and create taboos about discussing them. One of the brilliant elements of this novel is how those social taboos about open and frank discussion keep us in the dark for a while. How we readers slowly come to realize what is unsaid, the oblique references to societal obligations and mores that we only come to grasp bit by bit.Some people will find this book traumatic and painful to read. There are shocking scenes, graphic descriptions of labor and delivery and a shockingly violent scene early in the book when the pregnant Amanda is cut open to reveal the sex of her fetus long before its birth. Part of its “magic” is how slowly we come to understand how the patriarchy exerts its control, so let me just say this. If you are a person who needs a trigger warning for any reason, this book is going to trigger you.Gather the Daughters will be released July 25th. I received an e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley.
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  • Abby Slater- Fairbrother
    July 12, 2017
    I write this as I have just finished this novel, I am emotional and a little bit wounded. The author managed to invoke so many emotions in the journey of this novel, that I am almost lost for words! I will confess off the bat, I am a woman who delivered my first baby at 19 years old. That same baby is now 14 years old! That, made this intense reading! My final notes on this novel read: uncomfortable, yet compelling reading & A million shivers down my spineThis is without a doubt an intense n I write this as I have just finished this novel, I am emotional and a little bit wounded. The author managed to invoke so many emotions in the journey of this novel, that I am almost lost for words! I will confess off the bat, I am a woman who delivered my first baby at 19 years old. That same baby is now 14 years old! That, made this intense reading! My final notes on this novel read: uncomfortable, yet compelling reading & A million shivers down my spineThis is without a doubt an intense novel, be under no illusions………The novel opens on a seemingly colonised Island, where the mainland is referred to as the ‘wasteland’. The wasteland is destroyed by war, disease and murder. A new society exists on the Island, a society that has a whole new meaning for the female of the species……..I do by no means want to spoil this novel in any way shape or form. I often like to include quotes and outtakes from the novel itself. However, you won’t find any here. This is a novel that demands to be read and then devoured and for that reason. I shall not be giving too much away at all. There are a variety of personalities that inhabit the island. In particular, my favourites some of the young teenage girls. Growing more aware and rebellious with every growing day, throughout the novel. Raised in a society that rejects any form of female empowerment, where women have one use and one use only. This novel often makes for harsh and vile sexist reading. But that is the entire point of the novel, it draws you into the world the teenage girls must endure and it is not easy reading!The society is effectively a cult, one that has its own set of rules and laws, laid out via the church. A society where, when a young woman meets her summer of fruition, her life will ultimately change, whether she likes it or not! The society must remain with patriarchal order in the home which transpires as women must be controlled and dominated, at all costs. There are some very neatly written characters and at one point in the novel, I was so moved by a character’s situation, I actually Tweeted the author to tell her so. With the caption ‘what have you done’ ‘heart ripped out’! In a society so domineering and controlling that the young women wish death before birthing, how will they survive their summer of fruition? The tension drips off every single page! Fear is a powerful commodity and this novel fully details that. The how’s/when’s/whys. When one of the young teens, witnesses something she shouldn’t and she begins to educate the other girls. The dynamic of their lives changes and it is exceptional reading! Highly recommend 4.5*
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  • Ellie
    May 23, 2017
    Well that was a disturbing read. Gather the Daughters is told from the point of view of several girls living on an island in what can only be described as a cult. The girls believe something happened in the wastelands in the past which means they must stay on their island, living their life the way the ancestors wanted. There is a lot that is not explicit in Jennie's writing but it's clear early on that the girls are being lied to.In some ways, their rules are logical to preserve a community on Well that was a disturbing read. Gather the Daughters is told from the point of view of several girls living on an island in what can only be described as a cult. The girls believe something happened in the wastelands in the past which means they must stay on their island, living their life the way the ancestors wanted. There is a lot that is not explicit in Jennie's writing but it's clear early on that the girls are being lied to.In some ways, their rules are logical to preserve a community on an isolated island, but others will just leave you thinking that the ancestors must have left the wastelands to create a place where paedophiles could thrive. The psychological power of cults and domestic abuse is the only thing stopping the disbelief that the mothers would allow it. The women are all victims, they fear having daughters because they know what will happen.Girls are married off the summer after their first period, when they are suitable for breeding. They have a summer of fruition by the end of which they will be married off, some already pregnant. The younger children are cast out during this time, living wild on the island for the summer. When a couple's daughters are married off and have their own children, they can only live for as long as the husband can work. When they are no longer of use, both take the final draft, solving the problem that would be caused by an aging population without healthcare.The island is showing the signs of a decreasing gene pool, with more and more "defectives" born. The girls are told they can't choose a husband with the same second name, obviously because of the consequences of in-breeding. More insidious is the shalt not that forbids touching of girls after they have started bleeding and before their summer of fruition, implying that prepubescent girls are being sexually abused. The shalt not is there to prevent babies born out of incest.The girls don't know any better and it's heartbreaking and difficult reading. They are the property of their fathers and must do whatever they want. They love their fathers, they want to be good daughters. Couples are only allowed two children and there's no birth control, so after the second it is assumed that the men must find their pleasures elsewhere so not to break the rules. It's sickening. Note, if you're going to start an island community, make sure to take men that can control themselves.Some people question the ways, even small things like asking for the girls to be older before marriage, or their husbands to be the same age. But these people seem to conveniently die of illness or mishap. Janey, one of the girls the story follows, is starving herself to stop her period from starting. Another girl, Amanda, is pregnant with her first child. When she finds out it's going to be a girl she starts to think it would be better to take their chances in the wastelands.I think the idea is well executed but I can't really say I enjoyed this book. The undertones of sexual abuse were a bit too much and there wasn't an abundance of hope for the girls. At the least, it will make you appreciate being a woman in the here and now.Review copy provided by publisher.
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  • Ally Van Schilt
    July 2, 2017
    There are books, good books, and then there are amazing books that linger and change your perception of the world. This book definitely belongs to the latter category. Utterly absorbing, horrifying and moving, this is an incredible read. Without doubt one of the finest I have ever read.
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  • Jenny Buchta
    April 19, 2017
    I read this book in less than 24 hours. I absolutely loved it. Being dubbed as a mix of The Giver and A Handmaid's Tale, I knew I had to request this from Netgalley. I wasn't disappointed. Told from the viewpoint of several teenage girls, we learn about life on the island and the constraints placed on women. Be prepared for a great story, strong characters, and an ending to die for!
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  • Jen
    January 20, 2017
    After a cataclysmic event destroyed the country as we know it, a secluded community with its own rules survives in Jennie Melamed's Gather the Daughters, but the daughters begin to question the rules dictating their lives.To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website: http://makinggoodstories.wordpress.com/.In a community descended from ten ancestor families, whom the community now worships, daughters are trained at an early age by their fathers how to be a good wife. On the island, the After a cataclysmic event destroyed the country as we know it, a secluded community with its own rules survives in Jennie Melamed's Gather the Daughters, but the daughters begin to question the rules dictating their lives.To read this, and other book reviews, visit my website: http://makinggoodstories.wordpress.com/.In a community descended from ten ancestor families, whom the community now worships, daughters are trained at an early age by their fathers how to be a good wife. On the island, the population is kept safe by not leaving and having no knowledge of the world beyond their shores, apart from what little their worship book and the Wanderers tell them. Several daughters who have yet to reach puberty, when they'll go through their summer of fruition and find a husband, begin to question if there's anything or anyone beyond their island and if they can have a life as anything other than a wife and mother.There was a lot about the premise of this story that was intriguing, yet it was also utterly frightening in the possibility of this actually happening and disturbing in what it both overtly and obliquely portrayed. While I was disgusted at how the women and girls seemed to accept the men's behavior as normal, I also couldn't stop reading to see who might be able to change things and how they might accomplish it. The type of societal structure in the community left women oppressed and submissive, but there were at least some of the young girls who asserted their agency, offering a modicum of an optimistic outlook for the characters (and readers); however, I was disappointed in the character whose actions bring the narrative to its conclusion--it just felt like a let down that while much was changing for this particular family, nothing significant seems to have actually changed.Overall, I'd give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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