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Sunday, 13 August 2017

'Gather the Daughters' by Jennie Melamed


'Gather the Daughters' by Jennie Melamed, published in 2017 by Tinder Press

On an island, excluded and save from the wasteland, girls are raised by their parents until they start to bleed and reach their summer of fruition. One girl starves herself to prevent becoming a woman. Another girl wishes she could live like a man. One day, a girl sees something that makes the daughters rebel.

'Gather the Daughters' was one of my most anticipated releases of 2017. I pre-ordered it in March, and I started reading it as soon as I got my hands on it. I was not disappointed.


We are reading from the perspective of a couple of girls living in a cult-like society on an excluded island. Decades ago, ten men and their family discovered the island and started a radical society filled with worship, limited breeding, and strict rules. The only people allowed to explore outside the island are the 'Wanderers', male descendants from the original ten families. The daughters of the families of the island are meant to be 'useful' to the men, first to their fathers, then after they had their summer of fruition to their husbands.

Every summer, the children are allowed to roam wildly on the island, having no more rules or adults to stop them. At the end of this summer, a girl sees something that changes her perspective on how things are run on the island and informs the other girls of what happened. Under the influence of Janey, the older girl who still hasn't reached womanhood because she refuses to eat, the daughters start to rebel.


Much more of the storyline I don't want to spoil, because I went into this book blindly, and was thoroughly immersed in it because I needed to know what was happening.
This book reminded me of 'The Girls' by Emma Cline, a book I read last summer and really liked. This was even better. Even though you're reading about a dystopia, the writing style doesn't suffer under the suspense of the plot. The writing style of a book is very important to me, more important than the actual plot, so this book was truly a treat.

"Vanessa dreams she is a grown woman, heavy with flesh and care. Her two limber, graceful daughters are dancing and leaping on the shore as she watches from the grass where the sand ends. Their dresses flutter chalk-white, like apple flesh or a sun-bleached stone. A calescent sun shatters on the surface of the water, luminous shards slipping about on the tiny waves like a broken, sparkling film. One daughter stops to turn and wave wildly, and Vanessa, her heart aching with love, waves back. The girls clasp each other's forearms and spin in a circle, shrieking with laughter, until they collapse on the sand." 

Even though I was reading from several girl's perspectives, it was easy to know who was who because of the excellent character descriptions. Each girl's character was written in a distinctive way and I soon felt very attached to them (some more than others though).

The topics that appear in this book are very disturbing and most of the time I felt torn between not wanting to know what happened to these girls and not being able to stop myself from turning the pages. Girls are the servants of men on this island, and everyone is ingrained with this mindset which terrified me.

Overall, I really adored this powerful and horrifying debut and would highly recommend it if you enjoyed 'The Girls' by Emma Cline or 'Never Let Me Go' by Kazuo Ishiguro.


With bookish love, 

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