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 only survive 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 Army general, offers a stark warning about the dangers that lie ahead, but she 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 further 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 that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But soon, that adage no longer rings true—for their future, or their friendship. As they’re pulled in different directions, will their hard-forged bond prevail or shatter?
Beyond the Point is a heartfelt look at how our closest friends can become our fiercest battle buddies. After all, the greatest battles we fight rarely require a uniform.
Let’s get into the discussion questions
- The story starts off in Afghanistan in 2006 where Hannah attempts to give a soccer ball to a young boy who shuns her. It then goes to an email chain discussing a recent loss. Did you think the emails meant something had happened to Hannah?
- Why was Hannah, Dani and Avery all so determined to go to West Point? Why do you think Hannah’s grandfather tried to advise her against it? What was he afraid that she’ll experience?
- At one point, Avery begins to question her decision to go West Point and asks herself, “who chooses to enroll in a prison? It was a cruel bait and switch, to tell prospective students West Point was prestigious, only to treat them like shit once they got there.” What was your impressions of West Point from the descriptions in the book? Do you think you could have handled it?
- Why did Avery and Dani butt heads at first? What was the turning point for them?
- Not only is it difficult being a woman at West Point but Dani, as a black woman, deals with even more scrutiny. Do you think there has been any progress in the military or do you think it’s a constant struggle for women—especially minorities?
- Life at West Point changed post 9/11. Let’s discuss the sections dedicated to 9/11 and the different fears and uncertainties that each girl felt. Why do you think the author decided to have the story take place in this time period?
- Why do you think Hannah and Tim were drawn to each other?
- Avery hooks up with a lot of guys and it’s her decision to do whatever she wants but why do you think she tends to pick “bad boys?” What did she learn from Noah’s betrayal?
- Why couldn’t Dani tell Locke how she felt? Do you think he was also into her?
- Each of the friends takes drastically different paths upon graduation and lose touch a bit, other than a few emails here and there. It seems to happen when friends move away from each other, it can be hard to stay in touch. Do you feel the story was an honest representation of the ups and downs of friendships?
- The three friends have a fateful Thanksgiving where everyone is together for the last time. Let’s discuss the Thanksgiving dinner and how it gave hints about what was to come.
- Were you surprised when Tim was killed?
- Religion is mentioned throughout the story from Hannah’s seemingly unwavering faith to Avery’s skepticism; Dani is somewhat in the middle. Let’s discuss this. Do you think Hannah now has doubts about her faith after Tim was killed? Or do you think she still hold on to it?
- What happens next for the three friends?
What to read next
I love stories about female friendships! Here are some more recommendations along with discussion questions.
There’s lots of similarities with Beyond the Point and The Beantown Girls! Both feature a trio of best friends with different roles with the military. While Beyond the Point takes place in the 2000s, The Beantown Girls is during WWII. Here’s the synopsis:
1944: Fiona Denning has her entire future planned out. She’ll work in city hall, marry her fiancé when he returns from the war, and settle down in the Boston suburbs. But when her fiancé is reported missing after being shot down in Germany, Fiona’s long-held plans are shattered.
Determined to learn her fiancé’s fate, Fiona leaves Boston to volunteer overseas as a Red Cross Clubmobile girl, recruiting her two best friends to come along. There’s the outspoken Viviana, who is more than happy to quit her secretarial job for a taste of adventure. Then there’s Dottie, a shy music teacher whose melodious talents are sure to bring heart and hope to the boys on the front lines.
Chosen for their inner strength and outer charm, the trio isn’t prepared for the daunting challenges of war. But through it all come new friendships and romances, unforeseen dangers, and unexpected dreams. As the three friends begin to understand the real reasons they all came to the front, their courage and camaraderie will see them through some of the best and worst times of their lives.
Another story about female friendships is The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding.
London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.
Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?
With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.
Feel free to discuss Beyond the Point below!