Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Published: 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.
As I have said previously, I am a sports genre junkie. I am going to add that I am also a military one as well. Hell, I’m a genre junkie in general. But that is besides the point. When I saw Rites of Passage, I knew I had to have it. And have it I did. I devoured this book. And because I loved it so much, I’m going to forego the typical style review and I’m going to write an open letter to the author.
You have ruined me. You have ruined me so much that I binged on Rites of Passage instead of sleeping. But I don’t regret that decision. The reason why I did it was because you created a world that was easy to get lost into. A glimpse into things that I in particular have never seen before. The world of Military School was something I never thought of beyond an idle threat from my mother in the past when I was in need of discipline.
Speaking of the world of Denmark Military Academy, thank you for creating a world that showed that being ‘other’, although at first scary, isn’t always a bad thing to be. What I appreciated most was the fact that you took a strong female character and threw her into a male driven environment and expected her to succeed. She had the drive to do it and maybe her intentions at first were to just please her father or honor her brother. But it grew into something more.
The idea of more… Thank you for not eliminating romance from the book as well. These were teenagers in the prime of their lives. They should be attracted to each other and have issues about what that means. Self discovery in its finest. You didn’t shy away from it just because they happened to be at Military School. Sam was still a teenage girl regardless of the situation and I appreciated that as well.
Throughout all this, you kept the suspense. You kept me at the edge of my seat wondering if things were going to go south for Sam and the other girls at DMA. It was like watching G.I. Jane and rooting for her to kick some ass. To show those guys that she wasn’t some weaker sex because she didn’t have something swinging between her legs. In the face of ‘dark forces’ at play as well! Brava, Joy, Brava.
I laughed, I cried (40 pages in!), I gasped and cheered because I was there with Sam in those barracks. I was there with her when she struggled through each and every grueling task that got in her way. Empowerment and acceptance rang true through the words of your book and I want to say it again, thank you.
With tears in my eyes and joy in my heart,