img_0841     GATHER THE DAUGHTERS by Jennie Melamed 

When the country became a wasteland, several men and their families colonized a coastal island where they built a fundamentalist society based on worshipping ancestors, controlling breeding, and restricting all knowledge of prior history of the unknown wastelands. Only the Wanderers or chosen male descendants of the original ten families are allowed to enter the still burning wastelands to scavenge for debris.

In this patriarchal dystopian society, as soon as a daughter reaches puberty or “fruition”, her sole purpose becomes breeding. Daughters do not want to give birth to daughters so they will not have to endure the incestuous abuse they themselves endured until their first bleeding. When a daughter’s children begins to have children, both parents are no longer deemed useful and are forced to drink the draught that will end their lives making room for future generations.

The story is told through the differing perspectives of four daughters: Vanessa, Amanda, Caitlyn, and Janey.

Vanessa is 13 years old and has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge about any tidbit of information beyond the suppressive colony.
Amanda is not quite 15 and is married and pregnant. She has a mother who despises her and a father who loves her too much. Her only escape was to marry and get away from her family.
Caitlyn, a rare first-generation child from the wasteland, came to the island when she was just a baby. Her father is a drunk and a her mother is a meek wallflower.
Janey, a fiery red-haired 17 year old, does everything in her power not to become a woman. She doesn’t eat much hoping to prolong her fruition and wants to seek the truth about what lies beyond the colony.

This book was so great, I read through the first half non-stop. Seeing the colony through each girls’ eyes was very interesting as the history of the wastelands and the mystery surrounding the colony was slowly revealed in bits and snatches. Not one of the girls was entirely happy and felt as if she were missing something but couldn’t identify what that missing component was. Just a deep yearning for freedom. This debut novel by Jennie Melamed was spellbinding and riveting! I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair review.

Reviewed: February 26, 2017. Novel Publish Date: July 25, 2017.

Link to purchase: Goodreads


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