Review: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Rites of Passage
Author: Joy N. Hensley
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: Edelweiss
Review by: Jenn
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 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.
4 stars out of 5 stars
*I received an eARC of this book from the publisher, but it did not influence this review in any way.*

I was really excited about starting this book. The summary really caught my attention and I couldn't wait to start it. Rites of Passage follows the story of Sam McKenna as she is set to join the prestigious Denmark Military Academy (DMA) that was previously an all-boys school. Some may be okay with her being at DMA but there's another (more dangerous) group that want her gone no matter what means necessary.

I have to say that everything that Sam has to endure, all the hazing and torture, it was really hard to read at times. And how she remains strong and still manage to go back out there and show that they didn't break her? That's one badass chick there, she has earned my respect. I know that coming from a military family helped her tough it out and easily acclimate to the military school atmosphere, but I'm still amazed by how she just persevered and didn't allow for them to beat her.

There's a bit of romance in the story line and it came about so naturally and it was such a welcome distraction to all the pain that Sam was going through. However, I love how the book didn't become "romance" focused and it didn't distract Sam from her main goal of just making it through her first year at DMA.

The way that Rites of Passage ended has me hoping that Ms. Hensley will do a follow-up book on Sam. Rites of Passage gave us some closer but also left me wanting to know what will happen next to these characters. As a debut novel, Ms. Hensley left me in book hangover because days later I'm still in Sam's world back at DMA and how I would have fared in her place. (Spoiler alert: not very well). I can't wait to see what else Hensley has in stored for us. I say pick up this book because you will not regret it.


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