Review: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley10:00
Author: Joy N. Hensley
Published September 9th 2014 by Harper Teen
Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she's not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.
So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won't risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty... no matter how much she wants him.
As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.
Now time's running short. Sam must decide who she can trust... and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.
When I first heard about this book, I was immediately intrigued. Between the ages of 12 and 16, I was in the army cadets, and had never seen any books that dealt with something like this. In Rites of Passage, Sam's whole family had gone to the Denmark Military Academy, and this year, the school is open to girls, for the first time. She knows that being there will be difficult, but she made a promise to complete the dare set by her late brother. However, she didn't anticipate how much the other cadets wanted her gone, and the dangers she would be facing. To top it all off, there's also the issue of her falling for the drill sergeant, something that was explicit prohibited.
I loved Sam! She reminded me a bit of myself, but a lot stronger and capable to dealing with the tough things - I reckon I would've dropped out if I had to deal with everything that was thrown at her. Being from a military family, she had the stamina and experience of physical aspects of military school, but the mental aspects sometimes got too much - and this is what made the book seem more real. Sam wasn't perfect, she struggled just like anyone would, she just had a stronger threshold than most.
All of the characters in the book were well written, especially the ones you hated. Each character had a back story, and were extremely well fleshed out. Sam's relationships with secondary characters were each unique, and I loved how she had a support network around her, even when she felt like it was Sam against the world.
The romance wasn't a big part of the book, but it was a nice interlude here and there that let the strong, angsty parts settle in our minds. Sam and Drill's relationship wasn't just about lust, but they cared about one another, and it grew and blossomed from a simple friendship, to more.
This book was what I needed, and was one of the first audiobooks I've read. If you haven't already read this, do so, you won't regret it.