August 21, 2014

Rites of Passage - Joy N. Hensley

Rites of Passage book cover
Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Source/Format: Edelweiss (Thanks Harper Collins!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

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. 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 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.

Rites of Passage, in all honesty, far exceeded my expectations. The novel combines many elements: There's the high stakes environment and the pressure of being a military school initiate. There's also a mysterious secret society, and a dash of romance and friendship. And the central point around which everything spins? Kickass main character Sam McKenna. Hensley demonstrated well her ability to form a cohesive story from these foundational parts, gifting readers with a contemporary tale that well and truly stands out among its peers.

Personally, it's really Sam who makes this novel so unforgettable. She faces a lot of obstacles in her first year at the academy, both in terms of physical and emotional stamina. Plus, it doesn't help that there are plenty of people who just want to see her fail! There's so much pressure on Sam, things that could have potentially torn her apart, broken her down and even physically incapacitated her. But Sam perseveres in spite of all that, proving herself to be a smart, determined, strong young lady that wants to see this through to the end.

Rites of Passage is rife with trials and twists, the force of their blows made softer by the bits of romance and friendship sprinkled all throughout. Even though I can tell you I suffered multiple panic attacks or fits of rage, I still couldn't put it down - because I felt like it was important to see Sam's journey through till the end. Compelling heroine, well-done secondary characters, cleverly written sequence of events - if you're looking for a riveting new contemporary debut, look no further than Rites of Passage!

(P.S. Did I mention that there's also a certain drill sergeant hottie you might want to keep your eye on? I'm staking my claim on him (and honestly, the minute he appeared in Rites of Passage, I did this), so he's mine *coughs*, but feel free to admire him all you like.)

What's your favorite military movie?

Confession time - I do not watch military movies all that often. My dad does, and I used to watch with him whenever he did! But, for the most part, military movies are heartbreaking and hard for me, as I'm constantly thinking about how, for some people, this is their reality. (Like, for instance, the last one I watched was Lone Survivor with my roommates. I cried. A lot. It made me so sad.)

But I guess, were you to press me to pick a favorite, I'd go way, way back to an old standby that I've seen many times - Pearl Harbor. It was released when I was still in high school, which means it was pretty much ages ago. But I thought the story was so compelling, and heartbreaking, and beautiful. I've watched the film more than once, and read the book more than once too!


  1. SUCH CUTE OUTFITS. I love the dress in the first outfit especially. And those ankle booties!! My main rule for roadtrip outfits is COMFY PANTS. You don't want something constricting/things that will make your thighs sweat. GROSSEST FEELING EVER. Looks like all three of your outfits fit my requirement! ;) Lovely post, Alexa :)

  2. These are all so cute! I think the second outfit is what I would most likely wear - it looks so nice and comfy but also super stylish - but the first one is so cute! I agree with Jen: THOSE ANKLE BOOTIES. And the bag is adorable. And the sunglasses.

  3. I will be reading Rites of Passage next week, and now I'm even more excited to read it because I've seen a few really great reviews. Great review! x

  4. I have a printed legging that looks very similar to the one in the second look. I love wearing them. So comfortable and easy to style. Thinking of it, I often wear it with such a blouse. I really like the shoes from the last outfit :D

  5. LOVE THOSE BOOTS! And those leggings. I want them!!

  6. I have to admit I'm very curious about the drill sergeant hottie! I can't resist a possible new book boyfriend! And this sounds like it's going to be a very cool and kickass read. Looking forward to reading this one. Awesome review, Alexa!


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