Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed Tinder Press July 25th 2017
There maybe rose on the front cover of this novel, but roses have thorns and this is certainly a thorn ridden novel.
Imagine your on an island completely cut off from the rest of civilisation, your a young girl on the brink of puberty, destined to marry, have only two children and forever be under the control of first your father and then your husband.
This is normal life for Vanessa, Jane and Amanda.
Vanessa, the daughter of a Wanderer, a person permitted to visit the Wastelands and a revered member of the island community.
Amanda has reached puberty and is now married to Andrew, expecting her first baby but feels trapped, depressed and wishes to escape the confines of life in the community.
Jane, willful, unwilling to bend to the rules, starving herself to stave off puberty and inevitable marriage and children.
All three girls soon begin to question the islands rules. Jane begins to push the boundaries of disobedience further and further, and Amanda is embroiled in her own depression with devastating consequences. Vanessa is the only one to rebel in a less obvious way, too respecting of her father and family, perhaps suspecting that they too are questioning their very place and existence in the community.
Now I don't usually like dystopian novels but after seeing so much Twitter love I knew I had to read it.
It is not a novel for the fainthearted and some may find the nature of the material disturbing, but if you can get over that then you are in for one hell of a story.
The characters are superbly realised and Jane in particular jumped off the page with her defiance, determination and sheer unwillingness to conform to the rules of the community. She is wise beyond her age, yet fearless in her pursuit for change.
Vanessa almost seemed the polar opposite, the book reading, intelligent, gentler character, eavesdropping on her Father's meetings, forming her own opinions and finding her own way to rebel.
The community itself is one huge character and Melamed paints an extremely disturbing picture of a community where men rule, where women submit, where lives are extinguished when they are no longer useful. Those who question or rebel are dealt with and no one but the Wanderers are allowed to leave. Yet the community has growing problems, the number of babies born with defects and dying increases. Diseases wipe out whole swathes of the population until new families need to be brought in to dilute the inbreeding and secure the future of the island.
The story is fast paced, deeply immersive and the imagery all too real! I really felt emotionally attached to these young girls, urging them to find a way out, angry at the men for abusing their own children, for the mothers who stood by and watched it happen.
I loved the ending and am sincerely hoping that Melamed will be writing a sequel, in fact I demand that she write a sequel!!
Try not to be put of by the sexual content of the novel and its obvious comparison with Attwoods The Handmaids Tale as you will miss out on what is a jaw dropping, disturbing and thought provoking novel.
Thank you to Netgalley and Tinder Press for the opportunity to read and review.
About the author
Jennie Melamed is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who specialises in working with traumatised children. Jennie currently lives in Seattle with her husband and dog.
Gather The Daughters is her first novel.