Rites of Passageby Joy N. Hensley (Website, Twitter)
Published by HarperCollins on 2014-09-09
Genres: Bullying, Family, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, School & Education, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
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
This is one of these books that I would have dismissed if not for Jenny who told me this book was so phenomenal. And since Jenny is definitely my Book Soulmate, I listened and got a copy. And Oh My Goodness – I read this book on sitting on a Saturday, I could not put it down, I could not stop! It was THAT good!
Unusual, highly unique setting for a girl Protagonist!
Sam grew up in a military household. Her Dad a big Officer or General (you know, someone very huge up the chain) and her two brothers also in the military, Sam desperately wanted to love up to them, be one of them and enrolled at a military school where for the first time ever girls were allowed.
Sam grew up with military standards, rules and rites so for her it was a natural decision and a decision in hope of final acceptance and approval from her father. So imagine a rough, tough environment where kids are shaped to enrol and survive a military career. And now imagine a girl among these hard-asses. And now, go one step further and image that these boys do not like having girls around! This is a male domain, where girls are not welcomes and in the middle of this hatred Sam wants to prove herself.
Bullying under the excuse of military education – but Sam stays strong!
Most of the boys don’t want the girls there. There are 4 besides Sam who enrol in the school. The boys think girls have nothing to do in the military and they think girls are too weak to survive, that they will slow them down in their progress to be the best.
What Sam is going to endure in terms of bullying left me often speechless! I was gaping in horror about what these boys did to break her, to make her leave. And especially Sam has to endure even worse than the other girls, since everyone knows her Dad and brother, which makes her their prime target.
But they didn’t expect the Sam that came to this school, a girl so determined to succeed that she endured endless bullying, physical abuse and emotional abuse to show everyone that she would never give up! Gosh, this girl was so so damn strong!
And if you’d think that Sam is a tomboy you’d also be wrong – Sam is still very much a girl and I admired this girl so so much! You won’t imagine what’s been thrown at her, it will most definitely bring you to tears!
When friendship means more than family, when loyalty is found where you wouldn’t except it.
You would think her family stands behind her, makes her strong enough to go through with this. But no. Her brother is a high-ranking Officer (again, no idea about the ranks..) at her school, but .. her ignores her! He even ignores when the boys start to really badly and horribly bully her! Her father is found missing on a military operation and her mom is desperate over her missing husband and no use for her girl. She let her girl alone at christmas! My heart broke so so much!
Sam also finds friendship and even love, though its a forbidden one she cannot act upon. But at least she find some boys who admire her strength, who admire her willpower and who admire her endurance. Without them, she would be completely lost. But they give her strength, they support her and this is what helps her get trough all of this.
Oh The Feels!
This story made me feel so much. I could have never endured what Sam went through, I would have crumpled. Sam was an outstanding heroine – I just admire this girl so much! The romance was quite and cute and just perfectly genuine even though I wished for more, I understand I couldn’t get more. Throughout the book I was constantly on edge, constantly on the edge of tears, constantly hoping for them to stop hurting her or for Sam to back done.
Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley was an outstandingly brilliant story of a strong heroine who’s being bullying, hurt and emotionally abused. It’s an incredible debut and a story which is set in such a unique environment that it most definitely stands out among other YA books. It’s book that you open and can’t put down unless you finish the last page, it’s gripping and compelling, filled with so much emotion and strength – I can’t stop praising this book!
You know when books surprise you? This one completely surprised me! Did you expect this book to be so emotional, so amazing just from the synopsis? And finally, I hope I made you put this book on your pile even if you’d have dismissed it before. Rites of Passage is definitely a book NOT to be dismissed!