Thank you to the wonderful people at William Morrow Books for my copy of Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson. All thoughts and images are my own.
Beyond the Point is a captivating story of three women and their perseverance through one of the most demanding educational experiences in the country. Dani, Hannah, and Avery meet their freshmen year at West Point, where they are part of the shockingly small percentage of the student body that identifies as female. Brought together by their love of basketball (and their hatred of their evil coach), they form friendships that last through the rest of the world: a world of business and war and hurt.
Safe to say that before starting this novel, I knew absolutely nothing about what it meant to attend West Point – I’ve since learned to what extent the demands on the students, both mentally and physically, are extremely overwhelming. It’s no surprise that the friendships formed there are stronger than others. I love a campus novel and this one did not disappoint – I was swept away in the 200 pages of courses, dorm rooms, romances, and sports practices.
And by the time graduation came, I cared deeply about these three women and the danger of the years ahead of them. If I thought West Point seemed hard, I realized that those four years were just the beginning.
Gibson’s writing is easy to consume – the nearly 500 pages of this story flew by in a flash for me. I think it’s a perfect rainy day book; it will sweep you away and spit you back out again. I was a bit nervous about reading a book about the military. But Gibson doesn’t preach: she doesn’t propose a right or a wrong (war is good, war is bad, etc) – she explores the realities of our society in a measured way. As someone who is not religious, I always find myself wary of books that invoke God. But Gibson’s inclusion of religion is natural – some characters believe, others don’t. The book doesn’t assert a right way to live or to feel.
If you read to experience lives you’ll never live, pick up Beyond the Point this April. While I’m certainly not off to enroll at West Point any time soon, I truly feel like I know a bit more about what that would be like. Until April, take a look at this fascinating photo essay from the New York Times Magazine.
INTERESTED IN BEYOND THE POINT?SHOP AMAZON SHOP INDIE
Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)
Duty. Honor. Country. That’s West Point’s motto, and every cadet who passes through its stone gates vows to live it. But on the eve of 9/11, as Dani, Hannah, and Avery face four grueling years ahead, they realize they’ll survive only if they do it together.
Everyone knows Dani is going places. With athletic talent and a brilliant mind, she navigates West Point’s predominantly male environment with wit and confidence, breaking stereotypes and embracing new friends.
Hannah’s grandfather, a legendary U.S. Army general, offers a stark warning about the ganders that lie ahead, but Hannah moves forward anyway, letting faith guide her path. When she meets her soul mate at West Point, the future looks perfect, just as planned.
Wild child Avery moves fast and doesn’t mind breaking a few rules (and hearts) along the way. But she can’t outpace her self-doubt, and the harder she tries, the farther it leads her down a treacherous path.
The world – of business, of love, and of war – awaits Dani, Hannah, and Avery beyond the gates of West Point. These three women know what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But soon, that adage no longer rings true – for their future, of their friendship. As they’re pulled in different directions, will their hard-forged bond shatter or prevail.