Book review: Gather the Daughters by 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.

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. "

My thoughts

This book was beautiful, brutal and disturbing all at the same time. 

Following four girls living on an island in a supposed utopia we soon learn that life is not good if you are a woman. All four girls struggle with the realities of the 'Shalt Not's' the ancestors have bestowed upon them as they are growing into woman and start to question the islands way of life. Are there other islands? Are there other people out there? Why must they marry and have children? Why are the men in charge? Is this all life has to offer?

Gather the Daughters was written with such heart and beauty that even the sometimes uncomfortable subject matter was palatable. The beauty of the island was in stark contrast to the dystopian world of the inhabitants. I felt the struggles of each of the four girls as they attempted to understand and find knowledge whilst being completely powerless. I liked all four of them- they were resourceful, clever and strong despite being totally vulnerable. 

I was completely absorbed in Gather the Daughters right to the end, and although there were some ambiguities I can imagine some might find frustrating I felt like it was fitting to the book. Overall I highly recommend this dystopian novel that asked important questions about society, power and feminism. 

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

(Below is a note from the author I wanted to include as I found it really interesting and put so brilliantly)

A note from the author

I want people to finish the book and wonder about human nature and our response to strange and even bizarre circumstances. If a whole society is committing an aberration, does that diffuse responsibility? How does collective trauma impact an entire generation? What kind of person does it take to rebel against a very constricted culture, especially if their ability to gather information about the world is practically nil?

Published 25th July in Hardback (you can get a copy here)

[Thank you to Caitlin at Headline for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review]

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