Thistle (thistle_chaser) wrote,

Book #27 of 2019: Gather the Daughters

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
Traditional or self-published: Traditional
Rating: Hated, but this scale does not work for this book (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

This was probably the worst story I have read in my entire life.
This was one of the best-written books I read in the year so far.

How in the world do I rate a book like this? I hated it. It made me sick. I can't put into words how much I hated the story.

But it was really well written. The author trusted her readers. She didn't come out and say what was happening, she dropped hints until you eventually went "Wait, is X what's happening?" and you realized you were right... and then you felt sick because of how horrific X is. That happened repeatedly, and I love an author who does that.

The plot: A group of families are living alone on an island. The world has ended in fire and plagues, and a few families went off to live on the island to survive. [Spoiler]Or did the world end? While the other reviewers accepted what the islanders thought, I believe it didn't really end, that that was just part of the cult's lies. /end spoiler

Plot sounds fine so far? Hold onto your hats... Those seven families set up their own religion. Sort of an evolved (devolved...) version of Christianity. Some parts of what was happening were clear from the beginning of the book. To say women were second-class citizens would be an understatement. Women only existed to support the men and have babies. Literally their only purpose in life was to make their husbands' lives better. (And if you think they had control over who they married, think again.) But that was the kindest, nicest part of life on the island... [Spoiler]Slowly, bit by bit, the reader realizes something else is going on. For some reason, fathers are sleeping in the same beds as their daughters. Slowly you learn that the fathers are having sex with their daughters. This isn't just something they want to do (and they all do), their religion tells them they MUST have sex with their daughters... but they must stop once their daughter gets their period. That tells you how young these girls are.

I wish I had saved the line, because it was so chilling. One of the mothers said something like "[The fathers] really should start when their daughters are too young to understand what's really happening, then it becomes just a normal part of [the daughters'] lives."

This book was written by a psychologist who specializes in sexual assault on children, which explains why all of this was so realistic and horrible. /end spoiler

One of the daughters tries to "fight back" in the only way she can: She stops eating so that she never has her period. See, as soon as a girl has her period, she's married off... So through the book, she's slowly starving to death.

The ending was just as bad as the rest of the book. [Spoiler]You'd expect something to happen at the end. The girls to win, the island to burn down, something positive. But nope. One family left the island, but all the others remained behind, molesting their daughters, marrying them off, etc. WHAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT OF THIS BOOK? All it was was horrible stuff for women, sexual abuse of young girls, sadness, nothingness. And there was no payoff at the end! /end spoiler

When I rate a book, the difference between 'dislike' and 'hate' is an emotional one. If I'm just "meh, another bad book for the stack", it gets a dislike. If I have a strong emotional dislike for a book, I rate it hated. I hated this book more than I hated the worst-written book ever! ...yet I also couldn't stop reading it. In the first third of the book, once I realized what was happening to the young girls, I almost stopped reading. But after that I was never tempted to stop. As much as I hated it, I couldn't stop reading it...

I have no idea how to rate the book. It feels wrong to rate a well-written book as hated, but my god how I hated it.

I do not recommend that anyone read this book. I'm still pissed off at the book a day later. ...yet I'm not unhappy that I finished it.

This makes no sense at all. All I know is that I felt the need to shower when I was finished reading it. I left the book feeling like [Spoiler]I was the one who had molested the young girls.
Tags: 2019 books, book review, book: gather the daughters
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