Title: Gather the Daughters
Author: Jennie Melamed
Publishing Information: July 25, 2017
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia (I guess?)
Series information: Standalone
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley *all quotes below taken from ARC format and are subject to change
Recommended For: Readers who want something compelling but perhaps rage-inducing. Readers who don’t mind open endings
Note: the first part of this review gives away some details regarding the plot that I don’t consider spoilers as it is pretty clear right away what is happening on the island. Down below, I get into a spoiler-filled review but will clearly note when to look away as to avoid the big spoilers! Also, I had FEELINGS while writing this so please excuse the less formal review!
Gather the Daughters is a hard book for me to review. On one hand, I couldn’t stop thinking about it but on the other hand, I kind of hated it. I’m going to be completely honest. Before I started Gather the Daughters…I almost didn’t. There were some so called “triggers” such as incest and molestation and those are pretty much the two topics that I cannot handle. Finally I realized that I couldn’t stop thinking about the book and maybe that was a reason for me to keep an open mind and give it a try.
First, let me say that Jennie Melamed has a knack for beautiful writing. It was compelling and beautiful and kept me needing more. However, Gather the Daughters is told from four different narrators. Unfortunately, it was incredibly hard to tell them apart. I found myself wondering, “which one is this again?” One of the narrators was pregnant, and that was honestly the only way she stood out to me among the others. Obviously as the story progresses they become somewhat easier to tell apart, but it took a long while to get there. The voices sounded the same and therefore I had a very hard time connecting to any of these girls.
Here is where things get frustrating as a reader. In this community, women exist to breed, basically. Wait., it gets worse. On this island, each family is permitted to have only two children. So, when a husband and wife have conceived two children, guess who becomes the stand-in to take care of the father’s pleasure? Did you guess his prepubescent daughter? If so, you are absolutely correct!
“Who is my little wife?” asks Father in a sugary tone.
“I am,” whispers Vanessa.
So, daughters are now the stand-in wives and some of the mothers often resent their daughters while the daughter becomes responsible for their father’s well-being in many ways. Continue reading