This book! My goodness, THIS BOOK! What a crazy emotional ride it was! It made me feel intensely angry. It made me want to rip my own ha...moreRating : 4.5/5
This book! My goodness, THIS BOOK! What a crazy emotional ride it was! It made me feel intensely angry. It made me want to rip my own hair off. It made me want to strangle 50% of the characters. It made me want to root for the main character. Most of all, it made me want to flip the pages at an addicting pace. I just could not put Rites of Passage down.
My vague understanding when going into Rites of Passage was that it was the story about a girl who becomes enrolled in a military academy. I knew absolutely nothing else. I'm kind of glad I didn't either because the book had a much more powerful impact on me. Rites of Passage was really rough book for me and by the end, I was left emotionally bruised and battered. Rites of Passage narrates the story of Sam who decides to spend a year at Denmark Military Academy because of a bet she had with her older brother who passed away. Sam was a very easy character to root for. She was strong, resilient and a role model. She was the kind of character who was easy to look up to because of how emotionally brave she was throughout the entire book. Honestly, I don't know how she went through everything that she went through at the Academy with her head held high and I don't mean just the physical hardships, but also the emotional ones. If I were in her place, I would have been the first one out of the academy because I'm not that strong. If you can't already tell, I adored Sam and how she did not bow down to her bullies. The secondary characters in Rites of Passage were mostly deplorable and the sort of characters you hate to love. At the Academy, Sam was surrounded by sexist bullies who wanted to push her out of the school with the excuse that she was "watering down" the school. Matthews, especially, was someone I wanted to smack in the head repeatedly because what an ass he was. His misogyny and sexism made me rage, but the sad thing is, douches like him still exist in the real world.
At the core of Rites of Passage were strong themes of misogyny, sexism and bullying, themes that were handled tactfully and beautifully by Hensley. Sam's bullies were downright violent and clearly had mental issues for the way they treated her, not even caring about the danger they were putting her life into. What's worse was that Sam's own brother was a joke of a brother to her for most of the book. He refused to believe his sister and played an active role in trying to push her out of the school. I despised him, probably even more than I despised Matthews (and I hated him to the point where I wanted to punch him in the nuts). Rites of Passage could be very hard to read at certain times, because of how difficult it was to stomach what was happening to Sam as a woman, but it's a book that is a must-read because of what a good job it does at exposing and shedding more light on bullying and sexism. Rites of Passage also had a mystery in the form of a secret society that existed within the military school in which the bullies were members of. It was interesting getting to know what and how they were expanding, but it was also scary how devoted they all were to being in the society. Additionally, Rites of Passage had a sweet romance between Sam and Drill Stamm. It was refreshing to have people around Sam that respected her, supported her and genuinely cared for her. If I had any complaints about this book, it would be that I didn't like the open-endedness when it came to the romance and obviously,that is a personal preference and I also thought some of the issues that Sam had with her family were never fully explored. Other than that though, Rites of Passage was very readable and as I previously said, hard to put down.
Rites of Passage was a unique book for me because I've never read anything like it before in the YA genre. It was a gorgeously written book, one that will manage to glean out a lot of emotions from readers, will make you flip the pages as soon as you open the book until you reach the end and will make you want to read everything Hensley writes in the future. (less)