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43 Reviews
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From one who's been there...
As a female West Point graduate, I can tell you this book is a terrific account of a new cadet's first summer. I read it on a plane and couldn't put it down. The guy sitting next to me must have wondered why I alternately laughed out loud and wiped away tears. It brought back all the emotions of Beast Barracks and the challenges I faced. I sent copies to my parents...
Published on April 16, 2001 by S.T.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad, But not my Favorite
I'm heading to West Point next year and love reading about it, especially from a female's point of view. It's very slow which is annoying, but it's very detailed, which gives good pointers for my plebe summer. I wish it was her entire experience, not just CBT. Other great books on this topic are Absolutely American and Tough as Nails.
Published on August 28, 2012 by WPGirl


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From one who's been there..., April 16, 2001
By 
S.T. (Seattle, WA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Battle Dress (Hardcover)
As a female West Point graduate, I can tell you this book is a terrific account of a new cadet's first summer. I read it on a plane and couldn't put it down. The guy sitting next to me must have wondered why I alternately laughed out loud and wiped away tears. It brought back all the emotions of Beast Barracks and the challenges I faced. I sent copies to my parents and grandparents to give them more insight into my experience.
A woman's relationships at West Point are different than at most colleges; the competitive environment (where women often are viewed as the weak link) adds a new dimension to interacting with men and with other women. The low proportion of women (10%) makes them stand out more, warping their developing sense of self. Then add a dysfunctional family support system, and you get some idea of the challenges for Andi, the main character.
I truly hope Amy Efaw continues the story line. The lessons from West Point show young adults what they can achieve and overcome, and what success is all about.
If you want to read more about women at West Point, try to find a copy of Carol Barkalow's book, "In the Men's House." Carol was one of the first female graduates (1980) and her excellent book follows her cadet experience and early military assignments.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Motivational Book about Perseverance, July 25, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Battle Dress (Hardcover)
The setting of Battle Dress is West Point Military Academy, but the message I received from this first book written by Amy Efaw is: No matter what your life has been, it's up to you and your attitudes whether you make it or not. Never give up!
I found Battle Dress to be both motivating and good recreational reading, although I had to put the book down after the first two chapters because I was exhausted. Amy Efaw gives us a realistic and entertaining picture of a young woman's life at West Point without having to resort to filth and gore. "Andi Davis" leaves the disorder of her home and the insecurity of her childhood, and finds structure, identity, and acceptance at West Point. Efaw skillfully describes Andi's environment and experiences, her agonizing thoughts and fears, and her failures and triumphs. Andi doesn't always win, but then, neither do we. I cried with Andi, cheered for her, and laughed out loud.
The program at West Point, as described by Efaw, would probably seem harsh to the average reader; but they're training men and women to be leaders in potentially dangerous circumstances, where a careless mistake could cost lives. Since reading Battle Dress, I have a new respect for the Academy and its graduates. West Point may be the place where "striving for excellence" was invented.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining though flawed read., July 29, 2004
By 
This review is from: Battle Dress (Hardcover)
Beast: that is what the first six weeks of intensive training are known as at West Point Academy. It is unbearable even for many that make it as far as acceptance into the elite training camp, but Andi Davis knows she can hack it. Her life at home has no order, and she has always stood on the outside of a group. If she can handle her unpredictable mother and her distant father, she can handle anything. Even being one of two girls in her whole platoon. She thinks.

Beast is nothing like her home life. There is so much order that Andi can't even turn her head to look around her. The change is hard enough to deal with, but combine that with the tests of physical endurance and the insults screamed at her and the other cadets, and even Andi begins to flounder. There's only one thing that keeps her from giving up: she doesn't want anyone to know that she's really a loser, like her family has always told her; she refuses to satisfy the few male cadets who seem to be waiting for her to fail.

But as the six weeks pass, something begins to happen. She begins to see that she that maybe her family is wrong, maybe she isn't a loser. For the first time, Andi feels a part of a group. Amid all the screaming and punishment, Andi realizes that she is learning more than commands --- she is learning about a private community from the inside, a community she's a part of.

I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this book because of its subject. However, I was immediately drawn in and found it a quick, enjoyable read. There are many scenes that involve physical competition that were so well-written I found my own breathing speed up as though I was competing. Andi is a great heroine, more concerned with reaching her own goals than living up to someone else's standards. Gabi, her one female friend, may be a bit irritating at times, but then you realize just how different the world of West Point is --- in the outside world, Gabi would probably be one of the more popular girls in the class.

However, there were issues that were unresolved and left me unsatisfied. Andi's mom definitely seems to suffer from some mental illness, but she is instead portrayed simply as mean and angry. Andi never comes to terms with her family and, eventually it seems, decides to leave them behind as she becomes more and more wrapped up in the military world. The author never mentions how Andi feels about the real reason she is there: she is training to be a soldier, to kill the enemy. At some point, I imagine she must have grappled with this, since patriotic passion was never a reason for her entering the military --- so what happens when this reality hits her?

All in all, an entertaining though flawed read.

--- Reviewed by Kate Torpie
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book and insight into West Point, April 29, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Battle Dress (Hardcover)
Great book! Funny, poignant, easily held my attention. The main character, Andi, is someone we can all identify with. I found myself rooting for her and sharing in her successes and failures.
If any teenager is considering applying to West Point or thinking about the military, they should read this book to find out what to expect and how it prepare.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book Ever On West Point, May 12, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Battle Dress (Hardcover)
This absolutely the best young adult novel ever written about West Point. The book explores well beyond the mechanics of military life as Efaw examines the interpersonal relationships between Andi Davis, her family and her fellow cadets. This is a story that will touch everyone who reads, both teens and adults alike. THIS IS A MUST READ!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fiction reflects fact in this story of West Point, June 22, 2000
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Battle Dress (Hardcover)
What a great story! As the mother of two female graduates of West Point, I often wished that I could be a fly on the wall during their plebe summers. Through her character, Andi, the author has given us insight into the fear and uncertainty experienced in the beginning of the Cadet Basic Training culminating in the personal growth and achievement as the summer ends. The story was so real to me that I actually found myself reliving the Mom-type feelings from those Plebe summers.I would recommend this book to all young women who may be planning to attend a service academy and to their parents as well. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So well-written that you never even notice the words...., August 28, 2006
By 
Laura S. Heiman (Northfield, MN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Battle Dress (Paperback)
Most YA books have clunky language that makes your brain stutter every sentence or two; no matter how good the story, it becomes difficult to wade through. This book's dialogue, description, and character development feels graceful and effortless. Whatever you think of the experience that the character is undergoing, you are drawn in whether you want to be or not. I'm only halfway through and already popped on to Amazon to see if Efaw has written anything else - I suspect it would be a pleasure to read, whatever the topic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life is more than just what happens to you, May 12, 2008
This review is from: Battle Dress (Paperback)
This is a great book that gives an accurate portrayal of life as a New Cadet at West Point. But it's more than just a dramatized documentary about life as a girl at a military school. It's a well-written and captivating story of a girl who escapes her past by embracing herself. She discovers that the strength to pull her through was inside her all along and always will be. This is a great book for any girl who needs to know that she is her own solution.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book for any age, May 5, 2001
By 
Don from Baltimore (Baltimore, MD, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Battle Dress (Hardcover)
I bought the book out of curiosity and was enthralled. I have never been to West Point and I am not a young girl, but the story and the writing were riveting. One night I read the book to my 5 and 1/2 year old son at bedtime and he could not wait until the next night's reading. The descriptions are excellent and the struggles that the young heroine and her friends experience are universal. I am looking forward to her next book and so is my son.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring story of a Young Woman Reaching Her Goal, June 13, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Battle Dress (Hardcover)
Inspiring story of the challenges a young woman faces while starting her military career at West Point. This book gave me great insight into West Point - I have had friends and distant relatives who have went there, and I've always wanted to have a first hand account of what it's like to go there.
In addition, this book re-affirms that, as with most things in life, one's true "enemies" are not external things such as your family, job, circumstance, and in this case, the military tradition at West Point, but rather one's own self, with whom one must battle to accomplish one's goals. Andi Davis indeed possesses the strength, courage, and will to not become discouraged and accomplish her goals. By writing this story, the author inspires the reader to realize his or her own dreams and work towards them and (in the words of Andi's platoon motto) "Never Surrender!"!
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Battle Dress
Battle Dress by Amy Efaw (Hardcover - May 31, 2000)
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