When a book is compared to the likes of The Handmaid’s Tale, Our Endless Numbered Days, The Power and The Girls (yet to actually read this last!), you know it’s highly likely to be something you would want to read. This praise is made all the more impressive by the fact that this is the author’s (Jennie Melamed) debut novel! So, naturally, when I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the book before its publication date, I was thrilled.
Gather the Daughters tells the story of a ‘small isolated island’ where the community lives by their own rules. Daughters are born into a world in which they must take their place as wives and mothers, something which must happen as soon as they approach womanhood. Boys, on the other hand, are there to instruct, to grow into strong men who rule the women in their lives. Ever summer this island honours its ritual, one in which the children are turned out of their homes to run wild. They are free; free to run, to climb, to fight. Free to be children. Yet it is during one such summer, that a young girl is witness to something she should not have seen. Terrified by this, and by what it could actually mean about the island, the girls begin to give reign to their curiosity, lead down a path which they never thought existed.