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
ReleaseJul 25th, 2017
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
ISBN-139780316501408
Rating
GenreFiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Adult

Gather the Daughters Review

  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    Quite a terrible world for women is created within these pages. Exactly what these girls lives are like are gradually unfolded and the full horror is exposed. I was consumed by this story, but almost feel guilty saying that, sort of like the gawkers who stop to gaze upon a traffic fatality. It was though the girls, who we get to know quite well, that made me keep reading. Girls who banded together to change things, and save themselves. Beautiful, courageous young ladies. What has happened in the Quite a terrible world for women is created within these pages. Exactly what these girls lives are like are gradually unfolded and the full horror is exposed. I was consumed by this story, but almost feel guilty saying that, sort of like the gawkers who stop to gaze upon a traffic fatality. It was though the girls, who we get to know quite well, that made me keep reading. Girls who banded together to change things, and save themselves. Beautiful, courageous young ladies. What has happened in the world is not detailed, but hints are given. That is, if what the wanderers, all men, say is to be believed. Parts of the book reminded me of Lord of the flies, the wild abandon of Summers. Maybe a little Handmaids Tale, but only traces, this story truly is the authors own. Even a day after finishing I still think about those young girls, this is a book that sticks in the mind, whether one wants it to or not. Definitely not an easy nor comfortable read. So, so glad this is only a book, but so vivid, written so well, a very talented storyteller.ARC by Netgalley.
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  • Navidad Thelamour
    January 1, 1970
    “When a daughter submits to her father’s will, when a wife submits to her husband, when a woman is a helper to a man, we are worshiping the ancestors and their vision.”Jennie Melamed’s Gather the Daughters bowled me over in more ways than one. It was haunting, arresting, thought-provoking and confrontational in all the best ways possible. It pressed up against the boundaries of my personal comfort levels - and then pushed passed them. This was a novel with something to say, and Melamed’s voice “When a daughter submits to her father’s will, when a wife submits to her husband, when a woman is a helper to a man, we are worshiping the ancestors and their vision.”Jennie Melamed’s Gather the Daughters bowled me over in more ways than one. It was haunting, arresting, thought-provoking and confrontational in all the best ways possible. It pressed up against the boundaries of my personal comfort levels - and then pushed passed them. This was a novel with something to say, and Melamed’s voice carried far, loudly and still resonates in my head as I write this.In Gather the Daughters, this island is no ordinary island, and these girls live no ordinary lifestyle. Cut off from the mainland (which they’ve been told has burned to the ground, riddled with disease, sin and destruction, never to be habitable again) they live in a dystopian world without realizing that they really don’t. The “ancestors” brought their people here as an escape, away from the laws and customs of the mainland, and built their own commandments (the Shalt-Nots) and customs for the people to abide by – customs which include no access to outside books or knowledge, a social hierarchy where men reign supreme and women are subservient in every possible way, and a land where fathers have a special relationship with their daughters…In the midst of it all, a handful of girls have the wherewithal to question it all, and those who don’t suddenly disappear for speaking out band together to find answers…The first thing I’ll say is that Gather the Daughters is not a read for the faint of heart, but it IS a book for readers who aren’t afraid to cross a few lines. Jennie Melamed has crafted a novel that both explores and speaks out for the victims of abuse with poeticism, grace and force. She tells their story, paints their woes and harnesses their pain to educate and lend them a voice. The Daughters will push you to your boundaries. It will make you uncomfortable, make you think, make you angry. “She bit Garret Jacob badly when he tried to slide fingers over her breast in the night, waking to him cradling a bleeding palm and glaring at her. Embarrassed and guilty, she apologized and let him do whatever he wanted with her later – acts she was pretty sure the ancestors would have disapproved of.”With this novel, Melamed addresses the effects of rape culture on its survivors and on its observers. But, it is so much more than that. Gather the Daughters is an exploration of cult mentality and the tools used on its subjects to maintain the status quo and power the cult forward, of patriarchal rule and oppression, of the burdens of womanhood, of the will we have to survive and of what happens when we lose that will and succumb to the influence of others. It is an exploration of the darkness within us all and of an extreme patriarchal system of oppression not unlike how many women live today. “If everyone does it, it can’t be too bad, right?”(I can only imagine someone said something similar just before drinking the Jonestown punch in ’78.)From the very first page I was drawn in with one of the most haunting and arresting prologues I’ve read in a long time. Admittedly, there were times when the writing was too flowery in a way that took away from the poeticism of the novel rather than adding to it, so that what Melamed was trying to convey was nearly lost, but that never overshadowed the evocativeness of this atmosphere she painted for us. This world was complete. I felt it, lived it, was part of it, a difficult feat that Melamed surmounted with ease. Their world was all encompassing and the tension of their cult-like existence against the backdrop of the “Wastelands” was palpable. This novel started out of the gates with a bang garnishing an easy five stars, but the second half of the novel slowed a bit, while still offering morsels for thought, earning Jennie Melamed’s Gather the Daughters a very strong 4 stars overall. ****The Navi Review Blog | Twitter | Instagram
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  • Jaidee
    January 1, 1970
    Half a "amateurish, histrionic, incongruous, ridiculous, dysgusting, dystopian" star !!2017 Award - Worst Read of the Year This book was absolutely wretched !!! The writing was amateurish from being repetitively flowery and ornate to incongruous dialogue and behaviors of both children and adults that did not make any sense. The book started off somewhat interesting and then she tried to mash up all sorts of previous dystopian ideas into this book into a most slimy and soupy mess. I skimmed the Half a "amateurish, histrionic, incongruous, ridiculous, dysgusting, dystopian" star !!2017 Award - Worst Read of the Year This book was absolutely wretched !!! The writing was amateurish from being repetitively flowery and ornate to incongruous dialogue and behaviors of both children and adults that did not make any sense. The book started off somewhat interesting and then she tried to mash up all sorts of previous dystopian ideas into this book into a most slimy and soupy mess. I skimmed the last third of the book as I just wanted it done and I am so glad that it is done. This book was repulsive in many ways and not for any real literary, sociological or philosophical reason.Awful just awful !! If I had a paper copy I would burn this but instead I will just delete !!
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  • Taryn
    January 1, 1970
    "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. Their descendants still follow those 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 you "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. Their descendants still follow those 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
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • ☘Misericordia☘ ✺❂❤❣
    January 1, 1970
    Q: “At least we know autumn is coming.”... “And a winter, and a spring, and then another summer.” (c)This felt forced a bit. Disturbing and disconnected as well. Multiple protagonists, living oh-so-different and at the same time similar lives. A paedophile commumnity, a sect, an apocalypsis afthermath... The world of something else sprinkled with a healthy dose of Margo Atwood. Q:A calescent sun shatters on the surface of the water, luminous shards slipping about on the tiny waves like a broken, Q: “At least we know autumn is coming.”... “And a winter, and a spring, and then another summer.” (c)This felt forced a bit. Disturbing and disconnected as well. Multiple protagonists, living oh-so-different and at the same time similar lives. A paedophile commumnity, a sect, an apocalypsis afthermath... The world of something else sprinkled with a healthy dose of Margo Atwood. Q:A calescent sun shatters on the surface of the water, luminous shards slipping about on the tiny waves like a broken, sparkling film. (c)Q:She opens her mouth to call them back, but instead of urging her daughters back to shore, she finds herself screaming, Swim faster! Get away from here, get out, now! (c)Q:“Do we have to go?” says Vanessa. She remembers Janet’s birthing of her last defective, which was horrifying and repulsive.“It’s our duty,” says Mother, which means yes. (c)Q:As in Father’s books, the names of the publication locations are exciting and impossible to pronounce. Philadelphia, Albuquerque, Quebec, Seattle. The students have made up stories about what these places were like before they all became the wastelands. Philadelphia had tall buildings of gold that shone in the sun; Albuquerque was a forest always on fire; Quebec had such cold summers that children froze to death in seconds if they went outside; Seattle was under the sea and sent books up to land via metal tunnels. (c)Q:That night, Vanessa barely awakens. When she does, the wind is making everything move rhythmically and tree branches are slamming into the walls. It’s almost summer, she thinks, and then darkness overtakes her once more. (c)Q:When the ancestors came to the island, they built a massive stone church before they even built their own houses. What they didn’t know was that such a heavy building would sink down into the mud during the summer rains. ...All the eligible stones on the island are long mortared into vanished church walls. ...Vanessa can’t help but think that if she were in charge, she would build it just a little bit differently, so it might last longer. But she suspects that when she is a woman, she will see no problem with the current method of church building. She’s never seen an adult express anything but enthusiasm for the process of building up and then sinking the church. (c)Q:Our forefathers had a vision, a vision that could not be satisfied in a world of flame, war, and ignorance. The fire and pestilence that spread across the land were second only to the fire and pestilence of thought and deed hovering like a black smoke. (c)Q:Now the pastor is talking about women, which as far as Vanessa can tell is his favorite subject. It gets him more worked up than anything. She pictures him striding about in his bedroom at night, lambasting his wife when all she wants to do is go to sleep. (c)Q:“When a daughter submits to her father’s will, when a wife submits to her husband, when a woman is a helper to a man, we are worshiping the ancestors and their vision. Our ancestors sit at the feet of the Creator, and as their hearts are warmed, they in turn warm His. These women worship the ancestors with each right action, with each right intention. Surely the ancestors will open the gates of heaven, and our grandfathers’ grandfathers will welcome us with open arms.” (c)Q:Thou shalt not touch a daughter who has bled until she enters her summer of fruition. (c)Q:“The ancestors see everything, everywhere on the island,” says Our Book, and for a time in her childhood Vanessa felt like she was defecating for an audience of thoughtful ancestors. (c)Q:“First ancestor, bring us strength. Teach us wisdom. Reach to God with your arms, bring Him into our lives, wind Him around our thoughts, bury Him within our breasts. Let the men be strong like trees, and the women like vines, the children our fruit. And when we sink into the earth, gather us into your arms and take us to God’s domain, and let us not look downward into the darkness below.” (c)Q:“About four months along?”“About,” says Amanda.“You are thirteen? Fourteen?”“Almost fifteen.”“A good age for your first child. (c)Q:Eventually she started sleeping curled in an impenetrable ball by the fireplace if it was cold, and sprawled on the roof like a limpet if it wasn’t. Father teased her at first, then pleaded, and then commanded her to sleep in bed at night. (c)Q:Eventually she began sleeping at the edge of the island, where the brackish water lazily cozied up to land. The morning horizon was always foggy, and she could never see very far, but she liked the way the light filtered through the fog like a gentle touch, the way the outlines of trees and driftwood glowed and sharpened as the sun rises. She liked the little hermit crabs, scuttling around with one fist triumphantly thrust into the air, and the sound of fish leaping and plopping in the water. She even liked going back to Mother’s scowls and Father’s glum, sickening affection, because she knew that a few hours had belonged just to her. (c)Q:“Thoughts become words,” Caitlin quotes from Our Book. “Words become actions, actions become habits. Tend to your thoughts, lest you find yourself fighting for something you never really believed in.”(c)Q:She takes off running nowhere in particular, flailing her arms wildly in the dark and laughing louder than she would dare scream at home. It’s summer, and the quilt is hers, the lavish rain is hers, the brimming joyous night is hers. And there are many more days and nights to come. (c)Q:With the dogs and people and animals all huddled behind barriers, the world outside seems much bigger. The houses shrink to small boxes, while the fields stretch and yawn wider, and the trees unfurl toward the sky. Even the horizon seems longer somehow, with more sea and shore. The children are the only ones who can walk free, and they grow too, towering over their domain. (c)Q:Light footsteps in the distance: the children of summer, roaming in search of excitement, or a comfortable place to sleep. (c)Q:Mrs. Balthazar is quite old—nearing forty—and her granddaughter is only a little younger than Amanda. Because her husband has remained a useful carver, she has been allowed to stay alive along with him. (c)Q:“Why would we be the only ones to escape the war?” Janey continues. “What’s so special about us?”“The ancestors,” Nina says. “They had foresight.”“Well, maybe other people’s ancestors had foresight.” (c)Q:“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.” (c)Q:Vanessa does not look forward to shamings the way some children do, those who love the unique opportunity to mock and jeer an adult. They are simply part of island life, a punishment for those who blaspheme, or have secret meetings, or refuse their chosen profession, or a hundred other reasons. (c)Q:“I did whatever I wanted,” she said dreamily. “I slept in the sand and fell asleep by counting stars.” (c)
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  • Jan
    January 1, 1970
    This book has references to child abuse and incest. While it is not overly graphic and a lot of the abuse is implied, it is an integral part of the story line. This can make this book tough to read at times...I always feel odd when I 'like' a book that has such horrors of human nature involved, but this book really held me spellbound. Told from 4 separate POV's, (all children ranging from the ages of 13-17) the story unfolds on an island where it quickly becomes apparent that these children are This book has references to child abuse and incest. While it is not overly graphic and a lot of the abuse is implied, it is an integral part of the story line. This can make this book tough to read at times...I always feel odd when I 'like' a book that has such horrors of human nature involved, but this book really held me spellbound. Told from 4 separate POV's, (all children ranging from the ages of 13-17) the story unfolds on an island where it quickly becomes apparent that these children are living in a cult. This is their story, told from their limited perspective of the world they live in. You will feel their joy, (summer of freedom), and you will experience their terror (summer of fruition). There are scenes that are dark and haunting, but they are balanced out with scenes of love and triumph. You can't help but be drawn in to their world-these are some incredibly well written characters!The hierarchy within the cult is familiar: Men rule, women are there for the men. Sadly, this also includes the daughters. This book had it's own language as well which I found very creative. For example: the summer of freedom(such joy!), the summer of fruition(seriously messed up), the shalt nots, the scourge, the Wanderers, the final draft, the defectives, and the Wastelands. All these words helped to create a world that I couldn't escape from.My only complaint? The pace dropped about midway through and became a bit repetitive. But the ending was strong, even if it did leave me with some questions I would have liked answered. (The biggest is what decade does this take place in?!) I was surprised to see that this is a debut book-I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!ARC provided by NetGalley
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  • Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
    January 1, 1970
    Holy macaroni. This book was phenomenal in so many ways. It's straight into my Short List of my Top 17 Books of 2017. The book reminded me at times of one of my all time favourite novels - The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood. High praise indeed from me. I'm bursting over with things to share about it but want to let it all settle before writing my review. This was an emotional read. I can say this - get this book, right now, read it. You'll never forget this book. I'm in awe of the author's wr Holy macaroni. This book was phenomenal in so many ways. It's straight into my Short List of my Top 17 Books of 2017. The book reminded me at times of one of my all time favourite novels - The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood. High praise indeed from me. I'm bursting over with things to share about it but want to let it all settle before writing my review. This was an emotional read. I can say this - get this book, right now, read it. You'll never forget this book. I'm in awe of the author's writing and imagination. It's her debut novel! Exceptional talent. Watch this space for my full review!
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  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    I've struggled to review this title because I have mixed feelings.On the one hand, I'm weary of the women-as-breeder trope so common in post-apocalyptic fiction. On the other hand, there are reasons this is so prevalent.On the one hand, I find the child abuse in this, even though it is often "offstage," very disturbing. On the other hand, well. It's not unbelievable.On the one hand, I was confused about the world building. On the other hand, the ending makes everything very clear, or at least pr I've struggled to review this title because I have mixed feelings.On the one hand, I'm weary of the women-as-breeder trope so common in post-apocalyptic fiction. On the other hand, there are reasons this is so prevalent.On the one hand, I find the child abuse in this, even though it is often "offstage," very disturbing. On the other hand, well. It's not unbelievable.On the one hand, I was confused about the world building. On the other hand, the ending makes everything very clear, or at least provides reasons for it to be muddy. It is true that the daughters don't know enough about the world. That isn't a mistake, that's deliberate, both on the part of the author but also on the part of the men running the island they all live on. But would everyone feeling confused make it to the end?I also very much like the rotating perspectives, always only the daughters.Thanks to the publisher for providing access to this title through NetGalley. Published July 2017.
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  • Beverly
    January 1, 1970
    When you find out what is happening to the girls, it is a body blow of sickening proportions. I can see how this despicable society could function, because we already have such religious, so-called, cults that have practiced similar things. I chewed through this post-apocalyptic novel quickly, but was left bereft by the unsatisfying ending.
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  • Zuky the BookBum
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • Rita
    January 1, 1970
    A talented new authorI'm sure that we will hearing more from Jennie Melamed. This is a debut for her and I will be looking for new books by her. Gather the Daughters is very well written. It's the subject matter of the book that I disliked.When I first started reading the book, I read too fast. I was about 25% through when I realized that what I was reading made no sense. This is not a book that I could just plunge into full speed ahead. I had to go back to the beginning and slowly ease my way i A talented new authorI'm sure that we will hearing more from Jennie Melamed. This is a debut for her and I will be looking for new books by her. Gather the Daughters is very well written. It's the subject matter of the book that I disliked.When I first started reading the book, I read too fast. I was about 25% through when I realized that what I was reading made no sense. This is not a book that I could just plunge into full speed ahead. I had to go back to the beginning and slowly ease my way into Gather the Daughters.The chapters are titled by the names of the four daughters who are followed to tell the story, Vanessa, Amanda, Caitlin and Janey. I slowly had to learn about this awful society by reading about what was happening in their lives. Unfortunately they were born girls in a society where the women celebrated the birth of a boy and cried when the newborn is a girl. This is a dystopian novel and this society was founded on island by ten men and their families to escape the incineration of the rest of the country. Only ten male descendants of the original founders, the Wanderers, are allowed to leave the island to go into the wastelands to bring back items they find. They are also the only people who know what the outside world is really like. Problems develop when the four girls start questioning the reality of what they have always been taught, whether life for women really has to be hell on earth and whether they might be able to go to a better society.Although well written this book is extremely dark and depressing. The author is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who specializes in working with traumatized children and I can't help but think that she brings some of her work with girls into her book. If you cannot handle reading about sexual abuse, don't even think about reading Gather The Daughters. This book is well written but the world Jennie Melamed has created is dreadfully dark and dismal. It did hold my attention and readers of dystopian fiction know that the worlds left after a catastrophic event are not generally happy and lighthearted.I received this book in an Amazon Kindle giveaway in exchange for an honest review.Posted on Amazon and Goodreads
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  • ❀⊱Rory⊰❀
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • Bandit
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • Sheila
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars--somewhere between liked and really liked.The negative: This has all been done before. And, it's a big downer.The positive: I found this engrossing reading. The characterizations and psychology are spot on. The details of this civilization (which, as far as I can tell, was founded by deviants and not caused by any post-apocalyptical scenario) were chilling. I really rooted for the daughters to learn the truth, break free, and cause a riot. The ending depressed me, though it's fitting. 3.5 stars--somewhere between liked and really liked.The negative: This has all been done before. And, it's a big downer.The positive: I found this engrossing reading. The characterizations and psychology are spot on. The details of this civilization (which, as far as I can tell, was founded by deviants and not caused by any post-apocalyptical scenario) were chilling. I really rooted for the daughters to learn the truth, break free, and cause a riot. The ending depressed me, though it's fitting. (And the book's cover is stunning.)I received this review copy from the publisher on NetGalley. Thanks for the opportunity to read and review; I appreciate it!
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    I'm in mixed minds about this one.The Handmaid's Tale meets The Lord Of The Flies meets M Night's Shyalaman, The Village. That's what I took away from this book.Gather The Daughters falls into the dystopian genre and the blurb gives enough information to outline the story. What it doesn't say is that the book is disturbing on so many levels. Incest, rape and a rotten world for young girls and women is what's at the heart of this book. For me personally, I came too soon off The Handmaid's Tale to I'm in mixed minds about this one.The Handmaid's Tale meets The Lord Of The Flies meets M Night's Shyalaman, The Village. That's what I took away from this book.Gather The Daughters falls into the dystopian genre and the blurb gives enough information to outline the story. What it doesn't say is that the book is disturbing on so many levels. Incest, rape and a rotten world for young girls and women is what's at the heart of this book. For me personally, I came too soon off The Handmaid's Tale to be reading this one. There are similarities; from a male dominated, controlled environment where a woman's sole purpose is to give herself and breed. Charming! Never before has the island where Wonder Woman hails from been so appealing!I guess the storyline itself was ok. What I had a problem with was the repetitiveness of it all. I got tired of the mud, mosquitoes, the defectives, the blood; lordy so much blood and just the whole feel of it really. The narratives are from a few different girls alternately but even their voices didn't engage me enough. I only really kept going because I wanted to see where it was all going. There's nothing wrong with the writing; Melamed can write..... just ...... *sigh*An overwhelming feeling of sadness pervades throughout this book and not even the end could lift this one.Gather The Daughters is an uncomfortable read but if you don't mind uncomfortable dystopia then give it a go. Sadly on this occasion it didn't quite work for me.My thanks go out for my review copy.
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  • Moe's Book Blog
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • Tania
    January 1, 1970
    Each child has his own summer, but each summer leaves a different child.I was very impressed by this debut. A dark, thought-provoking speculative fiction about the treatment of females in an isolated island community. I loved the characters unique voices and the fact that they all responded to a similar situation in their own unique way - I felt sympathy for all of them, and wondered what I would do in a similar situation. The slow reveal and the constant downplay of the hideous truth, made it e Each child has his own summer, but each summer leaves a different child.I was very impressed by this debut. A dark, thought-provoking speculative fiction about the treatment of females in an isolated island community. I loved the characters unique voices and the fact that they all responded to a similar situation in their own unique way - I felt sympathy for all of them, and wondered what I would do in a similar situation. The slow reveal and the constant downplay of the hideous truth, made it even more upsetting and gripping. Maybe the author conveys the girls emotions and behaviors so vividly as she is a psychiatric nurse who investigated the anthropological, biological and cultural aspects of child abuse. I'll definitely be reading her next book.The Story: Gather the Daughters is set in the alternative reality of a misogynist dystopia. On an island just out of sight of “the Wastelands” (the mainland, or the rest of the world), the descendants of a ten families live in a closed community with no technology later than pen and paper, no money and some disturbing sexual practices.
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  • Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror
    January 1, 1970
    **NO SPOILER REVIEW****UPDATE** just read some reviews and I think people should know, most of the abuse and incest is implied and not explored in excessive detail. The author is a doctor that works with victims of child abuse so I trusted her very minimal description but without sacrificing the threat the girls were facing. So, it's not too much for sensitive readers.Damn! For a debut novel Jennie Melamed writes like she's been doing this "writing good books" thing in her sleep! This is a gripp **NO SPOILER REVIEW****UPDATE** just read some reviews and I think people should know, most of the abuse and incest is implied and not explored in excessive detail. The author is a doctor that works with victims of child abuse so I trusted her very minimal description but without sacrificing the threat the girls were facing. So, it's not too much for sensitive readers.Damn! For a debut novel Jennie Melamed writes like she's been doing this "writing good books" thing in her sleep! This is a gripping story about a cult on a faraway island. The narration follows 4-5 young, female protagonists and their unique (yet similar) path of survival in this strange cult.How strange?Well in the beginning, the author does an excellent job teasing things out, dropping hints and implying things but not really banging you over the head with any grim details.But as you get deeper and deeper into the story, much more is revealed.I haven't read such a compelling book in a very long time. If I didn't have a life, (a job, kids, husband, adult responsibilities) I would have sat with this book until it was done. I'm glad I was buddy reading this with my girl, Jessi because during the course of this book, you just have questions about the nature of the cult, "Is this what you think is happening?" or you just want to freak out with someone, "Can you believe what is going on?!"Stories about cults really fascinate me. Mostly because it's difficult to believe that people can justify the weirdest shit in the name of religion. I don't understand the cult mentality--it's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that a group of people or one person can manage to manipulate seemingly intelligent people to do things that are so clearly wrong.This book is no exception.The hard part was that it was told from the perspective of the children who have no choice in the matter and are the biggest victims in this scenario.In summation, I would recommend this book to anyone if you're looking for a compelling, fast paced read to close out your summer. Summer is the PERFECT time to read this book.
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  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 1, 1970
    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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  • Carlos
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, this book got me thinking and then it disappointed me. First , this books deals with very heavy topics (rape, child abuse , incest )but doesn’t focus on that, what it chooses to focus on is a “rebellion “ led by one of the child/woman who wants to a stop as to how girls are treated in this island in which this cult has chosen to live , a rebellion that seems more like child’s play rather than something that deserves to be taken seriously. Second we are never clearly told what happened befor Wow, this book got me thinking and then it disappointed me. First , this books deals with very heavy topics (rape, child abuse , incest )but doesn’t focus on that, what it chooses to focus on is a “rebellion “ led by one of the child/woman who wants to a stop as to how girls are treated in this island in which this cult has chosen to live , a rebellion that seems more like child’s play rather than something that deserves to be taken seriously. Second we are never clearly told what happened before the “ancestors “ chose to come to this island , I mean was it WW 3, was it atomic fallout, did something happen at all? . Regardless the story goes and we are treated to a story that loses importance by the page and which conclusion leaves the reader disappointed (at least it achieved that with me) . But maybe it’s just that I don’t like books that choose to deal with heavy topics just for controversy instead of actually looking at a solution. That is my personal opinion, but if you are into a dystopian world in which a cult of child abusers has full control of its citizens lives then you might like this book .
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  • Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)
    January 1, 1970
    OK guys and gals - Iet's get right to the skinny, shall we? This book is FANTASTIC! Debut novel? WHAT?! So well written. Divided into four parts, one for each season, we begin with Spring and end in the Winter. Once a girl has her first bleed, the next summer becomes her Summer of Fruition, where she (along with the other girls going through the same thing) group together with a group of boys to find their husbands. From there they are then married and she's allowed to have two children. Once th OK guys and gals - Iet's get right to the skinny, shall we? This book is FANTASTIC! Debut novel? WHAT?! So well written. Divided into four parts, one for each season, we begin with Spring and end in the Winter. Once a girl has her first bleed, the next summer becomes her Summer of Fruition, where she (along with the other girls going through the same thing) group together with a group of boys to find their husbands. From there they are then married and she's allowed to have two children. Once the children are old enough to bear children, they (now grandparents) take their final draft and die (if they are no longer considered useful to the society). Forty is considered ANCIENT. This is their life. Boys are celebrated and girls are a necessity to a means. Rules are to be followed from Our Book or have the wrath of the ancestors upon you. The children rule during the summer (before fruition) and stay outdoors, fighting for food and shelter while the adults are relegated to their houses. For the rest of the year, however, the opposite is true.There are so many nuances to this book that I don't even know where to begin. While there is not much that disturbs my dark mind, if you don't like to read about child abuse or incest, this may not be the right kind of read for you. This is definitely a somber, dark book and well worth the read for those who are so inclined to like the ominous intellect. And I certainly do. When one of the girls witnesses an act that makes her question the rules of the island, it starts an uprising from the girls that threatens everyone's existence. The underlying "what else is out there" remains constant in not only the children's thoughts but in the reader's as well. What exists outside of this island? Are the wastelands really set on fire? Or are other people living their lives in a completely different way and they're just set apart. Are the adults lying? In my mind, it felt like a cross between M. Night Shyamalan's The Village and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale.I want to live in this author's mind. I loved every page of this book. I wonder though, is a sequel coming or is this a one off? I'm happy with the way it ended but it definitely left room for more information - and I would happily pick that up if ever it should come. Take a chance on this book, everyone. It's quite the read.
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  • Sonja Arlow
    January 1, 1970
    This was not what I expected it to be, it was better!The book is tagged as science fiction (it’s not), dystopian (not really) so if you do not gravitate towards these two genres please don’t let that stop you from reading this. At the start this close-knit community that makes a living on a remote island had a strong Amish feel to it, homespun clothes, everyone working the land and bartering goods, children protected from outside influences and women living in servitude for their husbands.The co This was not what I expected it to be, it was better!The book is tagged as science fiction (it’s not), dystopian (not really) so if you do not gravitate towards these two genres please don’t let that stop you from reading this. At the start this close-knit community that makes a living on a remote island had a strong Amish feel to it, homespun clothes, everyone working the land and bartering goods, children protected from outside influences and women living in servitude for their husbands.The community is built upon strict religious dogma with the church being the focal point of island life.“The church, falling down into the darkness below, forever sinking under its own weight while islanders scramble to build up a series of dark rooms replete with the stale, imposing words of dead holy men.’(This quote took a whole different meaning for me as the story progressed)But this is not just a community that demands obedience from their wives and children, there are much darker demands that this island will do anything to keep secret.In summer, the children can run free and turn a bit feral. They don’t have to come home when the sun goes down, they play where they want, eat what they can find and generally cause innocent mayhem. This section reminded me a lot of When We Were Animals.Once a girl child has her first period, she enters her summer of fruition which helps her to choose a husband. The story follows 4 girls trying to survive in the only world they have ever known.This review also comes with a warning, the story is not for the faint hearted. There is nothing graphic in the content but there is a lot of implied horror waiting for you if you choose to read this. And for me, that feeling of dread and everything that was NOT said was what made this such a compelling read.Read it Read it Read it!
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  • debra
    January 1, 1970
    I read and reviewed it. The little piggy ate another one. Not doing it again as my original review was stellar! I'll stick to that evaluation of my own review, until or if, it reappears- then I will immediately start backpedaling.PS Now I remember being particularly annoyed that this book was compared to The Giver and Never Let Me Go and that might have added to my disenjoyment.(I just do so enjoy making up my own words-sorry)
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  • Abbie | ab_reads
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsYou guys like books about cults? Isolated dystopian islands where women and girls live in a nightmare with no control over their own bodies? (I know, it sounds uncomfortably familiar). Then you must check out Jennie Melamed's debut novel, Gather the Daughters!.The book follows the perspective of four daughters who live on the Island where the rules of the founding ancestors must be obeyed, and that means women and girls must submit to their fathers and husbands. It's grim stuff. After a 4.5 starsYou guys like books about cults? Isolated dystopian islands where women and girls live in a nightmare with no control over their own bodies? (I know, it sounds uncomfortably familiar). Then you must check out Jennie Melamed's debut novel, Gather the Daughters!.The book follows the perspective of four daughters who live on the Island where the rules of the founding ancestors must be obeyed, and that means women and girls must submit to their fathers and husbands. It's grim stuff. After a 'summer of fruition', girls who have had periods are married off to older men where they're expected to have babies and then die after they cease to be useful... I said it was grim!.I loved this book. I loved the writing, which was simultaneously elegant and raw, using beautiful language to depict ugly scenes. But as my good friend Sadie pointed out in her review, Melamed is awesome at telling and not showing. There are no unnecessarily graphic details about the incest or abuse, yet it is implied, simmering under the surface, enough to make you uncomfortable without resorting to shock tactics..The only reasons m it wasn't a full five stars for me were that I thought there was a slight stall in the otherwise perfectly paced story towards the end, and I sometimes got the voices of Vanessa and Caitlin mixed up, whereas Janey and Amanda both had wonderfully distinct narratives! Janey's story in particular really affected me: the lengths that she was pushed to by her society to maintain an illusion of control over her body were harrowing..Highly recommend this book!
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  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
    January 1, 1970
    I give up. This book is just not one I'm going to continue with. It reminds me of The Handmaid's Tale which I also hated and everyone else loves. Booksource: Netgalley in exchange for review
  • Jena
    January 1, 1970
    This review is going to contain some spoilers, so if you haven’t read this book and are interested in it, please be warned. This book is also heavy with trigger issues, specifically, sexual abuse and violence, along with domestic abuse.“Laughter for a boy, tears for a girl.”That one sentence summarizes the horror of living as a girl in this disturbed society. Even calling this society disturbed doesn’t feel like enough. It is horrific and beyond understanding.I went into this novel expecting cre This review is going to contain some spoilers, so if you haven’t read this book and are interested in it, please be warned. This book is also heavy with trigger issues, specifically, sexual abuse and violence, along with domestic abuse.“Laughter for a boy, tears for a girl.”That one sentence summarizes the horror of living as a girl in this disturbed society. Even calling this society disturbed doesn’t feel like enough. It is horrific and beyond understanding.I went into this novel expecting creepy. I expected something bad and disturbing to happen. What I didn’t expect was the entire thing to be creepy and disturbing.Gather The Daughters takes place on an island. This group of people live by the word of their ancestors, “The Ancestors”, who have rigid rules in place to keep everyone in line. They’ve been on the island, isolated from the rest of the world for generations.The rest of the world is called, The Wastelands, and they are raised believing that fire and disease have eradicated the land. The Wanderers, a small group of men, are the only ones allowed to travel beyond the island and collect items from the wasteland. The Wanderers are also the enforcer of these rules from the Ancestors, although they can add to the rules as they wish. But they are in complete control of everyone’s life on the island.We hear only from the viewpoint of a handful of daughters. Vanessa, Caitlin, Amanda and Janey. Vanessa is a wanderer’s daughter and so seemingly has it better than the rest. Caitlin is physically abused by her alcoholic father. Amanda is recently a married woman, having just finished her “summer of fruition” and is pregnant with her first child. And Janey, the small incredibly strong willed girl who starves herself in order to make sure she never turns into a woman.All of this sounds like typical dystopian fiction, right? Yeah, until you realize that the reason it’s horrible to be a girl in this society is that fathers lie with their daughters. Yes, you read that right.Okay. So, I’ve read some pretty dark and disturbing books in my life as a reader. And sometimes they deal with really icky issues like incest and rape and abuse. But in every book that I can recall, there was a point. A plot driven point that makes it understandable why the author chose to dive into these awful subjects. I wish I could say the same for this book. Sadly, I can’t.Here are the main inconstancies that bother me. First, we are never given any information regarding the wasteland to really understand how this society emerged. We get hints and clues, but even more disturbingly, it seems that most of the facts regarding the devastation of the wastelands appears to be made up to keep everyone compliant. All I can gather is that the ancestors were a bunch of pedophiles that wanted to sleep with their daughters.But even that doesn’t make sense because they came to the island with families! So how does a mother, growing up in a society that even somewhat resembles the one we live in, get on board with this?! How do TEN??? It’s beyond comprehension, and even more frustrating is that the author doesn’t even attempt to explain! For me, I could have stomached this society a little more if I had been given any explanation of how they were created. Or understand why the men continue to go along with it, when clearly The Wanderers know full well what is happening in the rest of the world. It feels incomplete and inadequate.My other problem is there is zero redemption in the end. We are given the seeds of discontent through the discovery that women who are unhappy or perhaps a little too opinionated frequently “bleed out” and die. Except no one ever sees the body. However, this community is so controlled that it has never been raised or questioned. Until Janey wants justice for her friend.Janey begins to rally the girls and forms a rebellion of sorts. But right when you think something will happen, something will spark a change or force this society to reveal details it doesn’t want revealed, a mysterious illness conveniently sweeps through and kills almost everyone. The Wanderers force everyone to remarry and decide to bring in more families from The Wastelands. To add to the genetic line. Which the ancestors wrote a warning about, needing to add to the gene pool.But even the rebellion is problematic. If this is a society that has been bred in such tight control for so many years, and trained to believe that this is normal and natural, why would the girls feel it was wrong. The mother’s are sometimes described as being jealous of the father-daughter relationship, which feels more real in this sense than being horrified by it. So, where does the sense of “wrong” come from? I suppose the author is saying that there is an innate knowledge of wrong behavior, but coming from someone who works intimately with abused children, I’m a little surprised at that belief. Usually abused children aren’t aware that the abuse is wrong, unless they’re told to keep a secret, or some other indicator is given. But there have been plenty of cases where that behavior wasn’t given any morality and it was simply accepted. So where would these girls or fathers have learned any wrong-doing?I didn’t understand what the point was. This novel was completely horror for horror’s sake. Trauma for trauma’s sake. We are fully immersed in this cult-like society where sleeping with your daughter is “cherished”. It is sick and twisted. Yet, we aren’t given any background to this society and in the end, nothing changes.Vanessa’s father finds out that The Wanderers were behaving in ways that concern him, and he ends up taking his family away from the island in the dead of night. But even this isn’t redemption or closure. First, we never see what happens, or where they go. But mostly because he didn’t leave because he was remorseful of regretted sleeping with his prepubescent daughter. He left because he was afraid something might happen to her if she stayed. So he loves her. Abusers love their victims in their own way. It doesn’t excuse or forgive the abuse.I don’t understand what the point of this novel was. I felt traumatized reading it. There was no helping these girls, or saving them from future horrors. Perhaps she meant to make art mimic life in that sense, but the result is simply tragic and horrific.The novel felt incomplete to me. Whenever an author takes on issues of this magnitude, I do feel that they have an even greater obligation to be sure to handle the subject matter appropriately. First, there was no warning regarding the content of the book. I felt that was misleading and dangerous. Second, the subject is so extreme, that it needed more. It needed a history of the Wastelands, a more solid idea of what that world was like to at least attempt to explain this society. Or, it needed to be more honest about the nature of the men. That they simply were predators relishing this power they held. By trying to make Vanessa’s father sympathetic, even though he is an abuser, is dishonest and misleading. It needed a point to the rebellion or at least some catalyst for change.I did not enjoy the book. It was a weird glimpse into a sick society.Thank you to Little, Brown for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
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