Sam McKenna is about to be among the first young women to attend the all-male Denmark Military Academy, and her angry male peers hope to oust the girls before the first semester is over. Despite these odds, Sam is determined to make it: hers is a military family through and through, and before her brother Amos killed himself one year earlier, he dared Sam to attend the DMA, and she’s determined to honor that wish. Thus begins a year of punishing military training, huge expectations, terrible living conditions, and nonstop emotional and physical abuse for Sam, with precious few allies. Debut novelist Hensley, a former cadet herself, writes with substantial knowledge of academy life, hazing, and the parameters of military rank and file. The first half of the novel is a fascinating portrait of young women breaking military barriers, though the story becomes overdramatic, with over-the-top villains, conspiracy theories, and a decades-old secret military society. This aside, Sam is easy to root for as a heroine, and it’s a strong first showing for Hensley. Ages 13–up. Agent: Mandy Hubbard, D4EO Literary Agency. (Sept.)
Sam McKenna has 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 trivial...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 won't rest until she gives up. 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.
A HarperAudio production.
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Gr 9 Up—Sam McKenna can never turn down a dare, and before one of her older brothers committed suicide, he proposed the ultimate challenge—be one of the first females to matriculate and graduate from prestigious Denmark Military School. Her military family can do little to help her as Sam faces harassment, sexism, and outright abuse from members of an all-male secret society on campus. This group is determined that no females will remain at the academy, but they have vastly underestimated the protagonist's fortitude. Hensley's contemporary novel is not an easy read because of the graphic depictions of hazing, but this worthwhile addition to the YA realm is notable for its portrayal of a strong female in the face of adversity. For fans of Catherine Gilbert Murdock's "Dairy Queen" trilogy (Houghton Harcourt) and Trish Doller's Something Like Normal (Bloomsbury, 2012).—Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX
The absorbing story of the first girl to join a fictional military high school. Sam comes from a thoroughly military family, her father a legendary colonel who has raised all his kids as though they were in boot camp. Sam faces worse than that when she enters the Denmark Military Academy on a dare. Her fellow "recruits" don't want her there and remain determined to make her quit, and her squad leader, Cpl. Matthews, has apparently taken it upon himself to force her out. Even her own brother, the cadet colonel of the school, tells her to leave. Sam keeps up with most of the boys in their obstacle courses, marches and calisthenics, but when Matthews becomes increasingly abusive, as tough as she is, Sam struggles to hang on. Sam finds allies, especially in her drill sergeant, to whom she feels an enormous attraction. When she learns that a secret society lies behind the attacks against her, she fears for her life. Hensley keeps the tension high as she leads readers to anticipate the next attack on Sam. The narrative flows along terrifically as Sam courageously battles to make it even while the forces against her increase. The characters stand out as individual and real; readers will cheer Sam on throughout. Absolutely compelling. (Fiction. 14-18)
|Age Range:||10 - 13 Years|