I first discovered this book on Twitter through Little, Brown and Company’s marketing campaign. When I saw the book marketed as a cult, a ‘book cult’, I knew I had to read it. I pre-ordered my copy and then not so patiently waited for it to arrive on release day. Growing up in west Texas we had two separate secluded communities seized by the Federal Government that had many similar situations to the stories found in the pages of Gather the Daughters. I do want to caution readers that there are heartbreaking topics such as incest and domestic violence that happens in the cult life and will be found inside this book. I will say that the situations aren’t overly graphic or explicit, however if these topics are triggers for you, you might want to skip this read.
“I wanted to change everything. “ -Janey, Gather the Daughters
Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed is powerful, disturbing and gritty. The story is told from the viewpoints of four different daughters who are members of a religious community sequestered on an island away from ‘the wastelands’, the rest of the world. The community was created by long ago ancestors and the following generations observe the island laws, commandments set forth by the original ancestors and worship the book, Our Book, created by the founders. What I loved most about this book was the brave and powerful girls who tell us their horrifying stories. These girls are courageous beyond what any child should ever have to be. Jennie Melamed has so richly developed these characters that your heart beats with them. You cheer for their will to survive and fight, and your heart breaks as you witness along with them the dismal reality of their lives. This is a debut novel that completely blew me away. There is a distinct moment in this book that completely broke me. The ending of this book left so many possibilities.
I. Want. More.
Was the ending left this way so that you can cling to hope for what becomes of the girls on the island? Was the ending left open to allow for a sequel? I am not sure, I hope there is more coming from Jennie Melamed and I would love to know what becomes of Vanessa.
I can’t say too much more without risking spoilers, but I will say that if you want to read a book that is thought-provoking and will rock you to your core, this is the book for you.
“Thoughts become words… words become actions, actions become habits. Tend to your thoughts, lest you find yourself fighting for something you never really believed in.” -Our Book, Gather the Daughters
I give this one 4.5 powerful stars out of five.
I read this book as part of our Salt Water Reads book club on instagram. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to co-host an interview with my book bestie, Stacey Armand of Prose and Palate. You can check out what Jennie Melamed had to say here.