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Gather the Daughters: Book summary and reviews of Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

Gather the Daughters

by Jennie Melamed

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed X
Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

BookBrowse Review
"Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed is set on an island in a post-apocalyptic world. In isolation, the society established by an initial set of 10 'ancestors' has developed into what can only be deemed a cult. As part of this world, a woman's only calling is to bear children and then die when she's of no further use. The plot centers around four girls on the brink of adolescence who begin to feel something is wrong with their way of life, and consequently plot to escape to a rumored mainland not far away where things may be better.

Melamed's writing is descriptive and haunting – often quite beautiful – and the world she introduces her readers to becomes increasingly creepy as the story progresses. The girls, too, are exquisitely drawn and individual; one comes to know each of them as a person, and their personalities are distinct. Unfortunately, I found the cult's practices regarding their pre-adolescent children so disturbing that it completely overshadowed my enjoyment of the finer points of the book. I can't be explicit without spoiling the plot but suffice it to say the 'ick-factor' was high.

In short, Gather the Daughters is an unforgettable book – but not in a good way; I consequently don't feel I can recommend it to a broad audience." - Kim Kovacs

Other Reviews
"Starred Review. Melamed's prose is taut and precise. Her nuanced characters and honest examination of the crueler sides of human nature establish her as a formidable author in the vein of Shirley Jackson and Margaret Atwood." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Compulsive and suspenseful... This beautifully and carefully constructed work pulls no punches in its depiction of a bleak future; it will attract fans of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and readers who enjoy horror, suspense, and dystopian fiction." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. Fearsome, vivid, and raw: Melamed's work describes a world of indoctrination and revolt." - Kirkus

"Lyrical and ferocious ... Melamed paints the joys and anxieties of girlhood with visceral force as the puzzle deepens and consequences multiply." - Helene Wecker, New York Times bestselling author of The Golem and the Jinni

"Forget your conventional coming-of-age morality tales - this book is about the gory transition from girlhood to womanhood and how difficult it is to balance animal instinct with the pragmatism of endurance. A gripping and elegantly-crafted read." - Joshua Gaylord, author of When We Were Animals

"In Gather the Daughters, girls and women face a world that is brutal, insidious, and unjust - and yet, hope and resilience persist. This is a lush, vivid and chilling novel. A remarkable debut." - Edan Lepucki, author of California and Woman No. 17

"An intriguing, gorgeously realized and written novel which inexorably draws you into its dark heart." - Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat

This information about Gather the Daughters was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Jennie Melamed

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 sexual abuse. Jennie lives in Seattle with her husband and their two dogs.

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