#allthebookreviews – Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

Only one more July #allthebookreviews title after this one!

A big thanks to Little Brown Company for sending us copies in exchange for our honest reviews!

GATHER THE DAUGHTERS by Jennie Melamed (out now!) was quite the read! We both loved it. If the end of the world and cults fascinate you, then you need to pick this one up. However, I will warn you, there are topics covered that not everyone can handle – domestic violence, sexual abuse, and incest elements are present. If it helps to know ahead of time, none of it is graphic.

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Chandra’s Thoughts: 5/5 stars

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.

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars

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.

We both highly recommend grabbing this one this summer! You may want to make sure you have plenty of time to read, because once you start, you won’t want to stop!

–Jess

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