Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Gather the Daughters

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 t

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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    Diane S ☔

    Jul 30, 2017

    rated it
    really liked it

     · 
    review of another edition

    Quite a terrible world for women is created within these pages. Exactly what these girls lives are like are gradually unfolded and the full horror is exposed. I was consumed by this story, but almost feel guilty saying that, sort of like the gawkers who stop to gaze upon a traffic fatality. It was though the girls, who we get to know quite well, that made me keep reading. Girls who banded together to change things, and save themselves. Beautiful, courageous young ladies.

    What has happened in the

    What has happened in the world is not detailed, but hints are given. That is, if what the wanderers, all men, say is to be believed. Parts of the book reminded me of Lord of the flies, the wild abandon of Summers. Maybe a little Handmaids Tale, but only traces, this story truly is the authors own. Even a day after finishing I still think about those young girls, this is a book that sticks in the mind, whether one wants it to or not. Definitely not an easy nor comfortable read. So, so glad this is only a book, but so vivid, written so well, a very talented storyteller.

    ARC by Netgalley.
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    Navidad Thelamour

    “When a daughter submits to her father’s will, when a wife submits to her husband, when a woman is a helper to a man, we are worshiping the ancestors and their vision.”

    Jennie Melamed’s Gather the Daughters bowled me over in more ways than one. It was haunting, arresting, thought-provoking and confrontational in all the best ways possible. It pressed up against the boundaries of my personal comfort levels – and then pushed passed them. This was a novel with something to say, and Melamed’s voice

    Jennie Melamed’s Gather the Daughters bowled me over in more ways than one. It was haunting, arresting, thought-provoking and confrontational in all the best ways possible. It pressed up against the boundaries of my personal comfort levels – and then pushed passed them.
    This
    was a novel with something to say, and Melamed’s voice carried far, loudly and still resonates in my head as I write this.

    In Gather the Daughters, this island is no ordinary island, and these girls live no ordinary lifestyle. Cut off from the mainland (which they’ve been told has burned to the ground, riddled with disease, sin and destruction, never to be habitable again) they live in a dystopian world without realizing that they really don’t. The “ancestors” brought their people here as an escape, away from the laws and customs of the mainland, and built their own commandments (the Shalt-Nots) and customs for the people to abide by – customs which include no access to outside books or knowledge, a social hierarchy where men reign supreme and women are subservient in every possible way, and a land where fathers have a special relationship with their daughters…

    In the midst of it all, a handful of girls have the wherewithal to question it all, and those who don’t suddenly disappear for speaking out band together to find answers…

    The first thing I’ll say is that Gather the Daughters is not a read for the faint of heart, but it IS a book for readers who aren’t afraid to cross a few lines. Jennie Melamed has crafted a novel that both explores and speaks out for the victims of abuse with poeticism, grace and force. She tells their story, paints their woes and harnesses their pain to educate and lend them a voice. The Daughters will push you to your boundaries. It will make you uncomfortable, make you think, make you angry.

    “She bit Garret Jacob badly when he tried to slide fingers over her breast in the night, waking to him cradling a bleeding palm and glaring at her. Embarrassed and guilty, she apologized and let him do whatever he wanted with her later – acts she was pretty sure the ancestors would have disapproved of.”

    With this novel, Melamed addresses the effects of rape culture on its survivors and on its observers. But, it is so much more than that. Gather the Daughters is an exploration of cult mentality and the tools used on its subjects to maintain the status quo and power the cult forward, of patriarchal rule and oppression, of the burdens of womanhood, of the will we have to survive and of what happens when we lose that will and succumb to the influence of others. It is an exploration of the darkness within us all and of an extreme patriarchal system of oppression not unlike how many women live today.

    “If everyone does it, it can’t be too bad, right?”

    (I can only imagine someone said something similar just before drinking the Jonestown punch in ’78.)

    From the very first page I was drawn in with one of the most haunting and arresting prologues I’ve read in a long time. Admittedly, there were times when the writing was too flowery in a way that took away from the poeticism of the novel rather than adding to it, so that what Melamed was trying to convey was nearly lost, but that never overshadowed the evocativeness of this atmosphere she painted for us. This world was complete. I felt it, lived it, was part of it, a difficult feat that Melamed surmounted with ease. Their world was all encompassing and the tension of their cult-like existence against the backdrop of the “Wastelands” was palpable. This novel started out of the gates with a bang garnishing an easy five stars, but the second half of the novel slowed a bit, while still offering morsels for thought, earning Jennie Melamed’s Gather the Daughters a very strong four stars overall. ****

    The Navi Review Twitter
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    Taryn

    Jul 24, 2017

    rated it
    really liked it

    “Endure. I have done it and so can you.”

    Years ago, the ancestors escaped the ravaged Wastelands to colonize a small island and start a new society. They wrote Our Book to line out the strict hierarchy and structure that would dictate their lives. Their descendants still follow those rules. Life in the agrarian society can be brutal, especially for girls, so the children are given a taste of freedom in the summer. They’re allowed to run wild until they return home in the fall. As one of the you

    “Endure. I have done it and so can you.”

    Years ago, the ancestors escaped the ravaged Wastelands to colonize a small island and start a new society. They wrote Our Book to line out the strict hierarchy and structure that would dictate their lives. Their descendants still follow those rules. Life in the agrarian society can be brutal, especially for girls, so the children are given a taste of freedom in the summer. They’re allowed to run wild until they return home in the fall. As one of the young girls is heading home at the end of this year’s summer, she sees something so shocking that she can’t keep to herself. The other girls are reluctant to believe her because it contradicts everything they’ve been taught, but the bit of forbidden knowledge begins to sow the seeds of discontent.

    Mother says she’ll feel different when she’s older, and Lenore Gideon told Vanessa she doesn’t have a choice anyway. Vanessa suspects they’re both saying the same thing.

    How could I resist a book described as “Never Let Me Go meets The Giver“? There were also shades of The Handmaid’s Tale, Lord of the Flies, Kindred, and The Village (movie). I recently commented to someone that I’ve always been drawn to dystopian novels because I’m trying to recapture the feeling of reading The Giver twenty-five years ago. Gather the Daughters definitely rose to the occasion! I was so captivated by this story. What grabbed me most about Melamed’s writing style was the subtlety. It was engaging because she allows the reader to figure out many things for themselves. The intricacies of these characters’ belief system are revealed gradually. It deals with a disturbing topic, but it’s not graphic. The characters talk about it euphemistically, so I wasn’t immediately 100% sure if I was correct about what was happening. Admittedly, it may have been a bit of denial on my part. The controversial issue is spoiler-tagged in my first comment for those that may need to know.



    My whole life, I’ve learned to not question things. It doesn’t do any good, really. You usually learn what you didn’t want to learn, and still don’t know what you wanted to know.” A sigh. “I mean, knowing things, it can really hurt.”

    “But Mrs. Adam,” whispers Vanessa, clinging to the hand on her jaw, “what if the hurting isn’t the most important part? What if it’s not even worth considering?” She swallows. “What if you were going to hurt anyway?”

    The girls won over my heart completely. They have little control over their lives or bodies, but the cult can’t control every aspect of their thoughts. Some of them are more rebellious than others, but even those that are reluctant to challenge the system still find their own quiet ways to rebel. In one touching chapter, the girls imagined the types of islands that might be out there. Their visions reflected what bothered them most about their society. There are four girls we get to spend the most time with:
    Amanda (almost 15yo) – She was happy to be married so that she could escape her father. Now that she’s pregnant with a girl, she realizes she’s merely changed her role in the process.
    Caitlyn (13yo) is meek, but has an inner strength that she’s not even aware of. The entire community sees the bruises all over her body, but she insists her father doesn’t hurt her. She claims she just bruises easy. When she witnesses a shocking event, her role within the group of girls begins to change.
    Janey (17yo) is the oldest of the children. She starves herself to delay the onset of womanhood. She is fiercely protective of her sister Mary. Janey isn’t scared of anything and that terrifies people. If anyone is going to be able to get through to the girls on the island, it’s her.
    Vanessa (13yo) is a curious, clever child. Her father’s position as a Wanderer gives her rare access to books. I loved the interrogation techniques she used to extract information from adults. She questions everything, but thinks it’s futile to entertain any ideas of escape.
    Rosie (9yo) doesn’t get her own chapters, but she’s such a memorable character. She’s headstrong and full of righteous rage.

    She mulls Mother’s impotent grief. A thought that Caitlin has been trying to suppress abruptly rises to the surface: if she leaves, if she is not there to stand in front of Mother and absorb Father’s violence, what will happen to Mother? But another voice, one that has been driven down even deeper, suddenly sings forth. She should be standing in front of me.

    In this book, the subjugated are trained to assist in their own subjugation. There are multiple signs that the women aren’t happy with their situation. For instance, male births are celebrated while girl births are grieved. Regardless, they are willing to bear the burden for the good of their society because it’s a part of life, just like the seasons. It’s seen as disrespectful to the ancestors to even suggest changes. There’s no room for dissent. By the time the girls are old enough to articulate themselves and fully comprehend what’s going on, they’re resigned to their fate. Women aren’t allowed to congregate in large numbers without male chaperones. Many keep quiet because they have no opportunity to discover that they aren’t alone in their doubts. The harmful ideas are so ingrained in their society that the dissenters begin to think that they are the ones who are defective. There’s also the threat of divine retribution. Vanessa worries the ancestors will hear her thoughts and punish the entire community. It’s repeatedly mentioned how important it is to prepare children for their roles, with some adults pushing to start preparing them at even younger ages. When the children of Gather the Daughters were singing a disturbing nursery rhyme, I was transported back to a scene in Kindred where Dana sees the slaves’ children pretending to hold a slave auction. In that moment, she realizes just how easily people can be trained to accept horrifying things.

    You have to talk to the girls again,” says Mary. “You have to talk to them about everything you know. Everything.”
    “I can’t. They’re too…too young.”
    “Wait for them to be old enough to understand,” yawns Mary, “and they’ll be adults. And then you can’t do anything.”

    The author Jennie Melamed is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who specializes in working with traumatized children. She explains her motivations for writing this book in the following article: Exploring a Cultish Culture: the behind-the-book story of Gather the Daughters (excerpt included). How does something horrific become an accepted part of a society? This book is an interesting exploration into the way cults operate and their methods of indoctrination. It also made me think about what parts of our own society are widely accepted but may be disturbing with some distance. The one thing I didn’t love is that the ending. It left me a little wanting. It’s a perfectly fine quiet ending, but I was left with so many questions. I can’t help but hope we get another installment. Nevertheless, I’ll be looking forward to reading anything Jennie Melamed publishes in the future.

    She discovers that grief is a liquid. It passes thickly down her throat as she drinks water and pools soggily around her food. It flows through her veins, dark and heavy, and fills the cavities of her bones until they weigh so much she can barely lift her head. It coats her skin like a slick of fat, moving and swirling over her eyes, turning their clear surfaces to dull gray. At night, it rises up from the floor silently until she feels it seep into the bedclothes, lick at her heels and elbows and throat, thrust upward like a rising tide that will drown her in sorrow.

    I received this book for free from Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. It’s available now!

     
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