Here are some words to describe Gather the Daughters: disturbing, haunting, cultish. The book focuses on very dark, heavy themes, including pedophilia, child marriage, and incest.
In Gather the Daughters, a group of people live on an island, where very summer, the children run free. But when the girls start their periods, they are considered to be women, and must marry and have children as fast as possible. The rest of the world is post-apocalyptic, and is simply called “the wastelands.” Fathers are encouraged to groom their daughters from a young age, but are supposed to stop once the girls hit puberty.
The book tells the story of multiple girls. Their lives are very similar and overlap. Caitlin is eager for knowledge and is allowed to read books from the wastelands; Janey, at seventeen, has been starving herself for years in order to prevent her period from coming.
This was a haunting and brutal book to read. While Melamed’s descriptions and writing are good, the book was slow-paced. I also wish the ending was more radical and made more of an impact.
Overall, I can’t really say I enjoyed reading this book, and I did skim through some of the middle. But it definitely made me think.
VERDICT: 3 stars