When I first read the description for Gather the Daughters, the word cult caught my attention right away. If you share my interest in the fascinating psychology of cults, you might want to add this to your to-read list. I've seen Gather the Daughters compared to classics such as The Giver, Lord of the Flies, and The Handmaid's Tale, which should give you some idea of how disturbing the premise behind this book is.
Gather the Daughters takes place on an unnamed island, a haven (of sorts) for the ancestors after the incineration of the wastelands -- what the reader assumes to be society as we know it now. After the ancestors arrived, they founded a society built on strict control of its citizens. Many generations later, inhabitants practice ancestor worship and controlled breeding, with only a select group of men given the power to leave the island. Only that group -- called the Wanderers -- is allowed any knowledge of the outside world and the history that came before. The story is told through the perspectives of several girls in the cult, as they transition from childhood to adulthood and begin to question the strict boundaries of their existence.
I have to warn you, this book contains some content that would not be appropriate for highly sensitive readers. Within the story, we witness child sexual abuse, domestic abuse, and incredibly strange mating rituals. This book is not for the faint of heart, but it is extremely well-written, with characters that come to life and a setting so well-defined that it makes the reader feel steeped in the claustrophobia of the island. The author, Jennie Melamed, is a psychiatric nurse practitioner who works with traumatized children and studied child abuse for her PhD. After finishing the book and reading the author description, I felt that I better understood how it came to be. It's been on my mind since finishing it, and many books later I can say that it certainly had an impact on the way that I think about the dystopian genre and that idea of a strictly-controlled society.
Bottom-Line Rating: 4/5
Title: Gather the Daughters
Author: Jennie Melamed
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Price: Pre-order for $18 on Amazon
Source: Net Galley
Note: Top Shelf Text was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!