Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Published: September 9th 2014 by Harper Teen
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Military, Romance.
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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.
Let’s just start by saying I wouldn’t last five minutes in a military academy, let alone a year. This book is emotionally, physically and mentally intense from the get-go. On a dare set by her brother, Sam is among the first group of females to enroll and be accepted into a prestigious military academy. However, not everyone is happy with this new addition and the animosity towards Sam and her fellow female comrades makes her life at the academy even harder than it already is. Tensions run high throughout the book and the addition of a secret society hell bent on keeping up with traditions means that Sam has to be on her guard 24/7.
I was exhausted after reading this book. Sam is put through the wringer and I have so much respect for her. She is loyal and very determined. Every time someone knocks her down, she gets back up again. In comparison to her other comrades, Sam’s treatment is significantly harsher. While she may resent this at times she is always supportive of her female companions. To say she’s tough would be an understatement and I am in awe of her strength.
In between all the physical activities and this sense of danger, a romance blossoms. I love the connection between Sam and Drill. Drill is such a sweetheart. He’s one of the few allies that stand by Sam throughout this journey and was a great support system. While I thought that their romance kind of pops up out of nowhere I can’t find it in me to complain about it.
I did have a few qualms with the book. Sam comes from a military family and throughout the book we learn about some of the issues they are faced with. However, I feel that these issues were kind of brushed aside in favour of the threat to Sam’s well being at the academy. We only really scratched the surface on how deeply these issues affect the family and I’d have liked to explore that dynamic a bit more.
My other issue is the open ending. These endings are more of a miss than hit for me. This ending just popped out of the blue. I understand where Hensley was coming from with the ending she chose but I just felt like it was too abrupt and it didn’t really provide us with any closure. There’s definitely room for a sequel or a companion novel.
Rites of Passage, is a book you simply cannot put down. The emotions are very raw and I was on edge for most of it. You literally cannot predict what happens next. Just when you think the worst is over a new obstacle rises. It is emotionally and mentally gruelling. If you’re on the search for a refreshing contemporary with a compelling cast of characters, pick up this book.