Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
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.
- A New York Magazine best book of the month
- A Real Simple best book of the month
- People Magazine’s Book of the Week
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.
GATHER THE DAUGHTERS – Editorial Reviews
“Melamed hasn’t written a simple didactic dystopia; her island is more brutal but also more hopeful than the usual brave new world – if only the four girls facing its horrific rituals can learn the truth in time.”―New York Magazine
“A spooky, sure-footed debut…It’s a provocative, dystopian page-turner about patriarchy run amok-just the thing to tide you over until the next season of The Handmaid’s Tale.”―People
“Lyrical and ferocious, Jennie Melamed’s Gather the Daughters follows the young daughters of an isolated society who start to question the truths of their world. Melamed paints the joys and anxieties of girlhood with visceral force as the puzzle deepens and consequences multiply. An heir to the speculative creations of Margaret Atwood and Shirley Jackson, Gather the Daughters is a darkly compelling read.”―Helene Wecker, New York Times bestselling author of The Golem and the Jinni
“Set on an enchanted island where magic is replaced by Freudian nightmare, Gather the Daughters is an eerie, claustrophobic tale in the spirit of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Grimm’s fairy tales. In her extraordinary first novel, Melamed pulls no punches. The young girls in this story are both victims of violence and perpetrators of it. They are survivors and warriors. 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
“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)
“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
“Melamed is a masterful writer, and she establishes a hauntingly vivid atmosphere…. This is a haunting work in the spirit of The Handmaid’s Tale–but Melamed more than holds her own. Hopefully, her debut is a harbinger of more to come. Fearsome, vivid, and raw: Melamed’s work describes a world of indoctrination and revolt.”
―Kirkus (starred review)
“Melamed’s haunting and powerful debut blazes a fresh path in the tradition of classic dystopian works…a searing portrayal of a utopian society gone wrong…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)
“Melamed’s gorgeous writing lets the details of this fundamentalist society drip out slowly. Readers will find dread washing over them as the story unfolds, and will be left catching their breath when the full backstory dawns on them. This one belongs on every dystopia reading list.”―Booklist (starred review)
“Chilling…. Fiction lovers and fans of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale won’t be able to put this one down.”―Real Simple
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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