Book Talk: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

Book Talk: Rites of Passage by Joy N. HensleyRites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Published by HarperTeen on September 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Format: ARC
Source: For Review

I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!




Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”


To say Sam’s life has been all military all the time would be an understatement — her dad is a colonel and her brothers are military as well. She’s lived by those rule her whole life. Before her brother Amos dies he gives her the ultimate dare — to enroll at the DMA — the military school they both went to. Never one to pass up a dare and to honor her brother, she decides to enroll when it is announced that women will be able to enroll in this all boys military school. There are only a couple of female recruits in this first class and everyone makes it known right away that they are not welcome….that the DMA needs to stay an all-boys school, that they can’t cut it and will make them weak. Sam isn’t worried about the physical training and she knows what to expect growing up military but nothing can prepare her for the war waged against her and the female recruits….or the feelings she’d have for her drill sergeant.


a4I think Rites of Passage is one of the most surprising books of the year for me thus far. I figured it would be pretty good but I had NO idea how absorbed in this one I would be, how intense it would be and how much I would FREAKING LOVE IT.

1. I had no idea how intense this would be: I mean, the summary did hint at how hard it would be for her but it couldn’t have prepared me for how intense or crazy it would be. I definitely was thinking HARD but also kind of cutesy (kind of like Cadet Kelly….HILARY DUFF WHAT..anyone else remember this movie?). WRONG WRONG WRONG. Sam gets put through SO MUCH. The guys against her aren’t just giving her little shoves and stuff…it was seriously intense and I was scared for her life. THIS IS SERIOUS SHIT. They want her out of their school so bad and my anxiety level watching what they did to her to try and force her out? THROUGH THE ROOF. And so much anger for all the sexism and the boys club behavior!!! I couldn’t contain myself.

2. The setting was awesomely written and unique: Sure we get boarding schools in YA but I have never seen a military school pop up before (not saying there ISN’T..I just don’t know of it). Joy Hensley really made me feel like I was there and BOY WOULD I NEVER WANT TO BE. I would never last a minute. From the craziness of their workouts to the sacred feeling on campus, I just was instantly transported there and could hear the uniform marching and feel the spit on my cheek as someone screamed orders in my face.

3. SAM IS SO BADASS: You can ask Will…I was fist pumping and rooting for her very loudly though he would have preferred I did it in my head. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to cry for her in this book. I can’t imagine being badass enough to fight her way through everything she had to endure physically and mentally. SO MANY FEELS FOR SAM. She had so much to prove to herself and everyone around her (especially her military dad) and I could feel that — especially when she was EVEN BETTER THAN SOME OF THE BOYS but everyone kept telling her she was weak. I felt like such a lazy person after watching how kickass she was and how tough. Anybody want to be my workout/running buddy so I can be like Sam??

4. The CAMARADERIE was touching: Pretty much everyone is against her and she had some major disappointments with people she should be able to trust and rely on but there were these moments of camaraderie with people who did believe in her that just touched me and gave me a surge of feelings. There were some really great characters who had Sam’s back and I loved them.

5. DRILL: OH HOT DAMN. You need to meet Drill, friends. I felt the struggle between not wanting to break rules but FEELINGS. My heart was skipping some beats that is for sure.

6. I found one of my most hated characters EVER…like burning hatred I can feel in the depths of my soul: There were a lot of hateable characters in this but there is ONE and I kept screaming, “OH MY GOD I FREAKING HATE YOUUUU” because the things he would do to Sam were awful and SO FRUSTRATING how she couldn’t do anything about it. Watching so many of his plots against her succeed and watching him get away with so much made me SCREAM. Sometimes I found myself having to take a moment to relax because I was so tense and squeezing the pages of the book. I kept wanting him to get an excruciating kick to the balls. Will kept telling me I was being crazy but I couldn’t help but be like AHHHHHHHH I AM SO MAD. I HOPE YOU DIE STUPID CHARACTER. Yes, I make death threats against characters.



factors+ plot, setting, characters, emotions, writing

Re-readability: Possibly! I so want another book to continue the story though!!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Yes I would like one!

a5fans of contemporary YA, readers who are looking for a unique setting in contemporary YA, readers who have punching bags nearby (haha kidding but no really…RAGE BLACKOUT), fans of military type setting, readers wanting a physically and mentally badass character who is easy to relate to, readers looking for an absorbing & intense read, readers who want books that tackle sexism and the patriarchy and the good ol’ boys club

a8Rites of Passage was an intense read that I could not put down. Like AT ALL. Joy Hensley gives readers a thrilling ride that will have you rooting for one of the most kickass heroines I’ve read and seriously worrying how much more she can take despite that. It was the kind of vivid reading experience that makes you feel like you are right in this with her. The mental fatigue, the determination and the fueled rage, the ache of the muscles on the 100th pushup, the heart-pounding fear — I felt it all! I like a book that makes me go through a myriad of emotions and Rites of Passage did that and then some. Rites of Passage may have invented some new emotions in my life or tapped into ones I never have felt before. An all around absorbing read that did everything right for me.


Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does this book feel like something you’d be into?
* Did anyone else feel intense rage and hate for a certain character (or few!)???
* Did you like the way it ended? (I so want a sequel but I was good with the ending).
* Anybody else feel like they should maybe not be eating ice cream on the couch while reading this because it further cemented how not kickass heroine they are? OH JUST ME??


The Perpetual Page-Turner


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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I was kind of on the fence about this one but after reading your review I really want it! I just met the author the other night at the Sarah Maas signing and she was super awesome. I guess she actually went to military school too on a dare. It wasn’t as intense as this because females had been going for a while where she attended, but she said a lot of her inspiration came from her experiences.

    • I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a me book but it was AWESOME. And that is so interesting that she did that!! Thanks for sharing that info!

  2. oh i’m so happy you liked this one Jamie! I had a few issues with it but you’re right Sam was a total badass and I completely loved her! Also, DRILL! *fans self* I still can’t get over him. I loved him like crazy! The CAMARADERIE was also incredibly touching, there were so many people against Sam but then there were those few who really stood up and supported her and my heart just kept breaking! Lovely review 🙂

    • I wish I could be more badass like Sam…seriously!! AND DRILL. CAN WE SERIOUSLY HAVE JUST A DRILL BOOK???! *Spoilers for people who haven’t read* I started silently crying and fist pumping there at the end with the mountain part…when they all came together for her. And like when they all protected her 24/7 on Drill’s orders. GAHHH.

      Do you have a review up? Would love to check out your thoughts and see what your issues were!

  3. I’m actually becoming a huge fan of Contemporary romance for Young Adults. I loved The Distance Between Us and I get the feeling from your review I’d like this one. But at the same time I’m not sure… I went through boot camp (for both Army & Navy) so I’m sure I’d be nit picking it apart. But Sam and being a badass sound awesome! I will have to check it out!

    • Apparently the author went to military school? Idk if that helps your decision or not! I would be really curious to hear your thoughts on how you think that was written if you do read it considering your background! And DANG are pretty badass to go through boot camp!!

  4. Ummmm…I think I have NO choice but to read this one! It wasn’t really on my radar until very recently and now after reading your review I am allll about it! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I am looking forward to this one for sure.

  6. I loved Rites of Passage! It’s definitely a very unique novel, especially in terms of setting. I really liked reading Sam’s story, even though it caused me to have intense feelings of panic, anger, sorrow, joy while I was doing so. Like you, I totally did not expect to be blown away as much as I was, but Rites of Passage deserves every single dang star I gave it (5 in all).