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Review: Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson

Review: Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson

Editorial note: I received a copy of Beyond the Point in exchange for a review. 

Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson is a stirring novel about a trio of friends navigating life and war together.

Prior to Beyond the Point, I haven’t read a novel about life in the modern day military. That fact that it focuses on three women cadets made Beyond the Point even more engaging. And there’s so much to unravel with this story.

It begins with three very different girls in high school that share a talent for basketball. While they have offers to play college basketball from several different universities, each are drawn to West Point in New York. 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.

Dani is gifted at basketball and she’s also brilliant. She’s able to navigate West Point’s predominantly male environment with wit and confidence, until a devastating injury changes her life’s course for good.

Hannah comes from a military family and her grandfather, a legendary Army general, offers a stark warning about the dangers that lie ahead. But things always seem to work out for Hannah, especially when she meets Tim, a fellow cadet.

Wild child Avery moves fast and doesn’t mind breaking a few rules 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.

We follow these three best friends as they navigate life through very unique circumstances.

The trio

Some of my favorite stories are ones that revolve around female friendships. The friends you make in high school and college are typically the ones that stick with you for life. We read the story from the perspectives of the three friends; I felt the author Claire Gibson did a fantastic job of ensuring that each of the characters sounded distinct and realistic. There’s no doubt that you’ll see some of yourself and your friends in each of the three characters.

I truly enjoyed the friendship between these three. It’s not perfect and they all make mistakes but in the end, they’re there for each other when it really matters. Stories about women lifting each other up have a special place in my heart.

Military life

The details of life at West Point and then afterwards in active duty are so vivid and dynamic. You really feel as if you’re transported to West Point in 2000 and then to Afghanistan in 2006. All the rules and restrictions that the cadets go through their first year is absolutely intense—even more so for the women. I loved when the three friends prove how capable they are time and time again.

It was also interesting to read about West Point pre-and-post 9/11. When these students signed up for West Point, there hadn’t been a full out war since Desert Storm and even then, it didn’t last as long as most. But after 9/11, all their lives take drastic turns.

Different view

The author Claire Gibson grew up at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where her father was a professor. Working as a journalist, a friend asked if she would be interested in hearing her stories from West Point and beyond. On her website, she says:

In April of 2013, I started conducting phone and in-person interviews with anyone who would open up about their time at West Point. One interview turned into two, which turned into six. Soon, I’d amassed hours of recorded conversations, dozens of stories, and countless anecdotes. Using their experiences as inspiration, I started writing.

In the U.S., we have Memorial Day and Veterans Day in an effort to honor members of the military and their families. I think it’s important to remember that these members of the military have dreams beyond serving. They plan for a life post-war and active duty. But sometimes tragedy prevents those dreams from happening.

A powerful scene is when one of the friends is on a plane in her military dress and she’s gone through the unimaginable—while the rest of the passengers have no idea. It’s quite heartbreaking.

This one is full of depth and will make you think. It’s very much a tribute to female friendships and courage.