Latest Read: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Publication date: Sept. 9, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received from publisher via Edelweiss (Thanks!)
Summary: 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. As a military brat, she knows what to expect and can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She's expects 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. As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is determined to force her out at any cost. Sam must decide who she can trust & choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences. (Adapted

The good
Can you imagine joining the first ever class of girls at a prestigious military school because of a dare? Well that's exactly what Sam does when her older brother dares her to enroll at Denmark Military Academy before he died. Granted Sam does come from a military family - her father, her two older brothers. It's in her blood and even though the dare was a catalyst, the drive to finish and endure everything she goes through is 100% her. She knew she would get a lot of flack for doing this. From her family, from fellow cadets. But she wasn't prepared for the extent of people's disapproval. Her mom isn't happy, her father isn't sure she can do it, one of her brothers practically shuns her on school grounds and a bunch of her fellow cadets cross the line from petty comments to cruel and dangerous hazing. It eventually comes to light that these cadets aren't acting alone and while the book is mostly contemporary, there is this suspenseful / mysterious side to it as Sam realizes there's a secret society fueling the threats to drive her out.

The author gives us a real, brutal look at what military academy is like. And even if you don't like Sam (which I think is impossible) or understand her, you will absolutely respect her. She knows the drills, she can keep up with the guys, she supports the 3 other girls in her class even when it would be easier not to and she puts up with fellow recruits and upperclassmen cadets purposely making her life hell. The level of hostility directed her way angered me so much and although I was surprised by how little could be done about it, I wasn't surprised by the actual behavior. It felt that realistic, which made me sad in a way. How hard it is for people to accept change. And there was Sam fighting with everything she had and more to prove them all wrong.

But the whole book wasn't just about Sam against the world. We learn a lot about her family and upbringing. We watch her form friendships with recruits, losing and gaining trust along the way. And we also watch Sam fight an attraction to her drill sergeant who was definitely my other favorite character. They had so much chemistry which surprised me because they had to hide so much and they really could not be together. But those tiny heat-filled moments added up and I seriously wanted to yell at them to damn the rules already.

(Super minor) reservations
The end felt a tiny bit rushed? I wanted so much more although for the more part, I did get the ending I wanted. For the most part. I wouldn't mind a sequel to this though.. maybe a novella in the future? Just saying.

Do I recommend?
Yes! I loved this insight into military life and like I said, Sam was just an amazing protagonist. Definitely recommend!

Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

What's your favorite military movie?
I can't really say that I have a favorite military movie because I don't think I've seen that many. The ones that immediately came to mind are kind of embarrassing. I thought of Dear John (one of Channing Tatum's better moments) first, then Flyboys and Anapolis. The latter both feature James Franco and I had enjoyed them a lot back when I loved him. Or maybe I just enjoyed looking at him in uniform. It was probably that. If you know any better military movies, I'd love to hear them!


  1. You know what's funny? Dear John actually came to mind for me too! Interesting, that. But it still would have counted, I'd say. Also, great review of Rites of Passage! I seriously think you captured so well the essence of the book, especially its best parts!

  2. We're on the same page when it comes to this book. I loved the entire story but the end felt really rushed. I wanted to see what would happen next between Drill and Sam! And, I would have loved to have seen more of Jonathan during his brotherly moments, LOL.


with love,