Gather The Daughters – Jennie Melamed

For fans of Emma Cline’s THE GIRLS and Emily St John Mandel’s STATION 11, this dark, unsettling and hugely compelling story of an isolated island cult will get under your skin.

On a small isolated island, there’s a community that lives by its own rules. Boys grow up knowing they will one day take charge, while girls know they will be married and pregnant within moments of hitting womanhood.

But before that time comes, a ritual offers children an exhilarating reprieve. Every summer they are turned out onto their doorsteps, to roam the island, sleep on the beach and build camps in trees. To be free.

At the end of one of such summer, one of the younger girls sees something she was never supposed to see. And she returns home with a truth that could bring their island world to its knees.

GATHER THE DAUGHTERS tells the story of an end-of-the-world cult founded years ago when ten men colonised an island. It’s a society in which men reign supreme, breeding is controlled, and knowledge of the outside world is kept to a minimum. Girls are wives-in-training: at the first sign of puberty, they must marry and have children. But until that point, every summer, island tradition dictates that the children live wildly: running free, making camps, sleeping on the beach. And it is at the end of one such summer that one of the youngest girls sees something so horrifying that life on the island can never be the same again.

About the Author:

JENNIE MELAMED is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who specializes in working with traumatized children. During her doctoral work at the University of Washington, she investigated anthropological, biological, and cultural aspects of child abuse. Melamed lives in Seattle with her husband and three Shiba Inus.

My Review:

This is a book that I would never have normally read or even looked at if I hadn’t asked for recommendations on my Facebook group (THE Book Club) for books ideal for a real-life book group with an interesting storyline and good for discussion.  When someone suggested Gather The Daughters and compared it to The Handmaid’s Tale I was immediately interested.

Gather The Daughters is, in my opinion, a powerful and thought-provoking story which drew me in from the opening chapter.  This is NOT an easy read, in fact it’s highly disturbing, dark, depressing and downright scary in places.  Set on an island and cut off from the Mainland, the inhabitants of the island live in a dystopian world with their own laws and customs.  Where men rule and women are there purely to breed as soon as they reach womanhood, this is an uncomfortable story.

There are so many aspects of this story which made me very uncomfortable especially the incest and child abuse and at times I had to stop reading and think about pretty bunny rabbits and cute kittens instead.

The writing is absolutely spellbinding and beautiful, the characters are all fascinating and each narrator brings more depth and detail to this harrowing story.  Jennie Melamed has created a frighteningly realistic society on an isolated Island with a claustrophobic and chillingly atmospheric feel.  I was completely and utterly mesmerised whilst reading this book and I know I will be thinking about the girls for months to come.

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