Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to attend West Point? Or maybe you are considering attending there in the future, but don’t know what it all entails. West Point is hidden in history and tradition. But many Americans may not even know it exists. But Beyond the Point, a novel by Clair Gibson opens the door to get a peek inside. Not just the tradition. But the thoughts and feelings of being a cadet from day one to graduation and beyond.
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Growing up I distinctly remember reading a series where the characters lived during the Civil War. Both families lived in Kentucky and based on their beliefs one family joined the Union and the other the Confederates. Those stories told of the conflict and the inner strife faced by those serving on both sides of the battle lines. And as a country divided life was forever altered even for those left behind.
I have always loved reading novels where history and real life are mingled together. A place where you learn more than historical events that happened, but the hidden stories mixed into everyday life. These stories break down history in a way that is relatable. It helps you to empathize with people who lived during the time period.
Intrigued by the story
When I was asked if I would be interested in reading a novel based on women who began attending West Point in the summer of 2001 I was intrigued and of course, said yes. (I also was able to interview the author, Claire Gibson, for the Women of the Military podcast, you can check out the interview here.)
As a post 9/11 recruit of the military I was intrigued to learn about the why behind their service and how their life changed the day the towers fell. Not realizing how the location of West Point and the community surrounding it was also deeply affected by loss on that fateful day. September 11th changed my life as it set off a series of events that led me to military life. But for someone who signed up to serve their country when war seemed an unlikely possibility. How does that change what you signed up to do and who you are going to be?
These were the things I was searching for as I began reading the novel, Beyond the Point: A Novel written by Claire Gibson, who took her real-life story of growing up at West Point as a military child while also incorporating the countless interviews of women who were cadets at West Point and the future leaders in the Army.
But what I found was much deeper and close to home than I ever expected.
I loved the detailed stories of the hard days as a cadet. And even harder days to come as the training field went to the battleground. Learning about the challenges that women faced while attending West Point and the hard work it took to get to graduation day. All while hearing the detailed hearts of the 3 female characters created for this book.
Add to the fact the beautiful theme of friendship and love being written into the story made me not able to put it down until I reached the end.
If you are interested in any aspect of military life you should take time to read this novel.
It will give you an appreciation for the hard work men and women must go through to become leaders of America’s Army. It also shares the reality of the struggle faced by women who make the choice to join the service and how much has changed in the last 20 years.
Have you read Beyond the Point? What was your favorite part?