Commentary on Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley
Hey there, everyone! My name is Jessica and I’m a blogger over at The Book Bratz. 🙂
Batool was kind enough to reach out to me and ask me to do a guest post about Female Empowerment & Literature. I’ve decided that the best way to preach my message is by talking about one of my recent reads that really stuck with me for the feminism and perseverance aspects: Rites of Passage by Joy N. Hensley.
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. 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 petty…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 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.
This book was really important to me because Sam’s ability to keep going even when being hated was remarkable. The other boys in her military academy made her life miserable. Why? She was just as good as any of them. She did what she was asked, behaved, and excelled in all of her activities.
She was hated by her comrades, her military family, solely because she was a girl. Right from the get-go, it was assumed that Sam wouldn’t be as good as anybody else there because she was a girl. And I find that utterly appalling. Why, just because I have an X-chromosome instead of a Y, am I not allowed to be as strong as you? As smart as you? As brave as you? Why am I expected to be dumber than a boy standing next to me because I’m a girl?
Here’s a bit of an excerpt from my review of Rite of Passage over at The Book Bratz, which you can find here:
“Some of the things that Sam had to endure just broke my heart, they were that horrible. She dealt with name calling, shoving, spitting, kicking, and even worse physical abuse that you’ll barely be able to believe. Throughout it all, Sam keeps a tough face on and sticks it out with her fellow female recruits to prove a point – they’re just as good as the boys, and they can’t be stopped.
I recommend everyone reading this book, boy or girl, at one point or another. In this book Sam McKenna experiences some hard times that none of us will ever have to endure in our lifetimes. The rigorous training at a military academy is hard enough, but dealing with the force and physical training on top of being a girl and being abused and mistreated because of your gender is just so painful to think about.
I definitely think that Hensley created an excellent character in Sam McKenna. She’s brave, and strong, and incredibly resilient, always fighting for her rightful spot in the DMA, despite how members of her own recruit company treat her.”
Any society that condones women being inferior solely because they are women…it’s just wrong. People are people. They need to be valued for their strengths and talents and abilities, not judged by the gender they come from. We’ve come a long way with gender equality, but the battle isn’t over. We still have a long way to go.
So, long story short, hats off to Hensley for whipping up such a perfect book that demonstrates that women need equality in the world – and that their gender can’t confine them to a tiny box of who they’re supposed to be. I can clearly rant about this topic forever, but I’d eventually start boring you guys. LOL. So I hope you all take the time to think about how important gender equality is, and realize that being a boy or a girl does not ever define, even for a speck of a second, who you are.
Thank you again to Batool for hosting me! If you guys ever want to pop by The Book Bratz and come say hi, here’s how you can find me: