A semi-autobiographical YA novel based on Efaw’s own experience attending West Point. For teenage runner Andi Davis, military academy is an escape from the unrelenting brutality of her family’s emotional abuse. There she faces institutional sexism and her own tendency to judge women more harshly than men, and, like any cadet, struggles to survive in a deliberately harsh environment. But she also finds, for the first time in her life, a sense of belonging and people who value her strength.

The novel covers only basic training (“the Beast,”) and so is catnip to anyone who enjoys training sequence – except for the very first chapter, the entire thing is a training sequence. It’s very well-written, well-characterized, and realistic.

Though it’s much more about the day-to-day experience of military training than rah-rah patriotism, don’t expect any critique of war, America, America’s military policies, the military-industrial complex, because you will not find it here. It’s an intense, in-the-moment book about a young woman taking the first steps toward becoming a soldier, and how that changes her. I liked it a lot.

Battle Dress


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