ARC Book Review: Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
ashley | There’s something hauntingly fascinating about cults, so I was naturally drawn to Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed. But this is far more than your run of the mill cult story and there was some very strong and disturbing subject matter that I think is really glossed over in the description. This was incredibly difficult to read, the subject matter so very disturbing, but Melamed handled it all with such sensitivity and grace and wrote such a strong, moving piece that despite the subject matter, is a terrific read.
If ever there was a book that needed women to defy their upbringing and rise up against everything they knew, this is the book. It’s mind blowing how everyone just took what was said as gospel and year after year allowed the same atrocious things to happen not only to them, but to their sisters and daughters alike. How did it take so long for the women to rebel? That terrifies me! Their way of life turned my stomach – that’s actually almost too mild a description – and made me incredibly uncomfortable and viciously angry. The abuse, the incest, the wallflowers who never question any of the actions, all of it was just really hard to read and even harder to write about here.
I liked the structure of this, how it was told from the points of view of different girls who had different statuses within the community and different perspectives of their lives, some who didn’t question anything, some who questioned everything. I thought the girls were all very brave and very strong and I loved how they all came together to uncover some of the truths and untruths that they had been fed since they were children. This was very hopeful and inspiring and added a little bit of positivity to the otherwise dark story-line.
I also really enjoyed how well the perverse passages were handled, as I already mentioned. Melamed has a psychiatric background dealing with traumatized children and you can really see a gentleness to how she approached some of the worst things imaginable. There were no overly graphic descriptions and yet, she still painted such a vivid picture. This in itself shows the talent and grace she has as a writer.
I finished the last page of this and it took everything in me not to scream. The ending was fitting to the repeating history of the story-line, but it was not what I was hoping for and it was not at all reassuring. Reading this with a knowing perspective was infuriating, more so when you realize that things like this actually happen outside of this book. That is what is even more terrifying. You see some very scary qualities in the men of this book, qualities that you can easily see reflected in people in the news today, with their horrifying acts and grandiose religious beliefs.
This is a story that cut me deep and has left me very, very chilled.
today! july 25, 2017