Battle Dress

Battle Dress

4.7 30
by Amy Efaw

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Based on the author's own experiences as a cadet at the exclusive United States Military Academy at West Point, Battle Dress is the brutally honest tale of seventeen-year-old Andi Davis, who views her acceptance at West Point as a chance to escape her dysfunctional family and prove to herself that she has what it takes to survive "The Beast," insider

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Based on the author's own experiences as a cadet at the exclusive United States Military Academy at West Point, Battle Dress is the brutally honest tale of seventeen-year-old Andi Davis, who views her acceptance at West Point as a chance to escape her dysfunctional family and prove to herself that she has what it takes to survive "The Beast," insider terminology for Basic Training. But nothing could have prepared Andi for the rigors that follow-or for the inner strength that she will need to succeed as a woman in a nearly all-male society. Compelling and powerful, but never militaristic, this is a tale of triumph that won't fail to move readers.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
-Provides insights into long-held traditions at a mostly unfamiliar, formerly male-dominated institution. Compelling, at times stomach-turning, reading.+ -School Library Journal

-Even readers who disagree with Andi+s values will be pulling for her.+ -Publishers Weekly

Arkansas Democtat-Gazette
Efaw's careful storytelling sucks you into an engrossing adventure full of military terms. . . Anyone, male or female, interested in a military academy should read —Battle Dress for a preview of what to expect. Everyone else should read it because it's a great story.
Teen People Book Club
Written by Amy Efaw, a 1989 West Point grad, the novel gives an exclusive look into what it's like to be a girl at this often emotionally and physically challenging college. . . Forget your preconceptions about West POint—Efaw doesn't shy away from its rough parts, but also shows you that it's an amazing place for the right person. Andi's story is an incredibly inspiring one that proves anything is achievable if you want it badly enough.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Andi's capably depicted transformation from an insecure adolescent into a knowledgeable and fit soldier, unhesitatingly obedient to the code of military conduct, may prove more disturbing to some readers than the edgiest sex, rebellion, and family dysfunction offerings of YA literature.
Publishers Weekly
"In this insider account of a female cadet's first summer at West Point, readers are given a potent dose of military life," wrote PW. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
In this carefully crafted story of personal triumph, the author has used her personal background from cadet training at West Point to create a fictional tale of the hardships faced by new cadets during Beast training. Andi Davis sees West Point as her salvation from 17 years of hardship, growing up in a dysfunctional family. She theorizes that if she could survive her parents, military training would be a piece of cake. Through the six weeks of training, Andi and her comrades are pushed to their physical and mental limits, belittled, verbally assaulted, and exposed to activities designed to both break them down as individuals and build them as a team. Readers will find an accurate portrayal of military training, and revel in the personal triumphs of this young woman who gains self-confidence and respect. 2000, HarperCollins, Ages 12 up, $15.95 and $15.89. Reviewer: Mary Sue Preissner—Children's Literature
Author Amy Efaw, a real-life graduate of West Point, has written a gripping novel about 17-year-old Andi Davis, who leaves her abusive and dysfunctional family and flees to the discipline of West Point. Like all incoming cadets, she must report in the summer prior to her first academic year in order to go through Beast, the grueling training designed to separate the wheat from the chaff. As Andi wrestles with her uniform, her roommate, the constant yelling, and the rifle drills, she begins to find her niche as she shows her talent as a runner. While her years of suffering the verbal abuse of her parents enable her to withstand the haranguing of her superiors, she realizes that she must learn to become a leader and have more confidence in herself in order to be of use to her fellow cadets. Friendship and unlikely support manage to assist her in growing into her true potential. Efaw admits to streamlining some of the bureaucratic details of West Point and everyone but true sticklers will thank her for leaving out the minute details of rank differentiation. Her writing is straightforward and compelling, making Battle Dress a real page-turner. Andi's style and ability make her a heroine attractive to both genders as well as reluctant readers interested in military subjects. Every junior high, senior high, and public library that wants to boost its circulation stats should prepare a book talk on Battle Dress and buy more than one copy for their shelves. KLIATT Codes: JS-Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2000, HarperCollins, Trophy, 382p., Ages 12 to 18.
— Courtney Lewis
Andi Davis is a high school senior whose home life could crush the spirit of Mother Teresa. Her extremely dysfunctional family includes a clinically crazy mother, a father defeated by both life with his wife and life in general, and a brother and sister who have learned from their years in the pressure cooker to look out only for number one. When Andi hears about West Point and realizes that she has a good chance to be admitted, it seems like a dream come true. She soon learns, however, that the first six weeks of cadet training at West Point are referred to as "Beast," and not without reason. Raw cadets are mercilessly drilled, screamed at, belittled, and generally harassed until those who survive are ready to begin the process of being transformed into U. S. Army officers. Andi is determined to make it through, although she is wracked with self-doubt, caused by years of her mother's ridicule, and is without help from her browbeaten father. It also seems as if her cadet sergeant tormentors have it in for her, and some of her fellow cadets seem to think that female cadets are not required to "pull their weight." Will Andi make it through "Beast?" If she does not, she will have to go home. This book by a West Point graduate is a gripping, hard-to-put-down look at a young woman's struggle to succeed in a traditionally all-male environment. All readers, regardless of gender, who like a good coming-of-age story will enjoy it. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, HarperCollins, 291p, $15.95. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Tom Pearson

SOURCE: VOYA, October 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 4)

Seventeen-year-old Andi Davis doesn't know why she wants to be at West Point Military Academy, other than that she doesn't want to be at home. But slowly, she's learning. Like all new cadets, Andi Davis receives abuse from her regiment leader. Yet, she reasons, his abusive demeanor has a purpose — to help her develop character. At home, though, the verbal abuse and neglect she gets from her parents, she figures, is just that — abuse and neglect. Suddenly, she finds purpose in her military life during a storming, mud-soaked, twelve-mile hike to Lake Frederick. Exhausted, yet elated, she sees herself for the first time as belonging to a group — and a cause larger than herself. Amy Efaw uses her own West Point experience to write this realistic, engaging coming-of-age story. The strength of this work — with its detailed look at preparing for army life — is its in gripping self-reflective look at the central character's growth. This book is for anyone who is struggling not just with the angst of surviving an abusive household, but for those who want to learn more about becoming a strong moral leader. Genre: Coming of Age/Child Abuse. 2000, Harper Collins, 291 pp., $15.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Ann Reddy Damon; North Baltimore, Ohio
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Andrea Davis accepts an appointment to West Point, knowing its reputation for strenuous training but believing it can't be any worse than surviving her abusive mother, her silent father, and constant family fights. Andi believes her dysfunctional family has prepared her to meet all challenges. The story chronicles "Beast," the aptly nicknamed new-cadet program, from a female plebe's perspective. Nothing is left out, from arrival blitz through grueling physical training, "square" meals and lack of sleep, military science, and the daily regimen of marching and torment from upper-class cadets. Team building is always the training focus. Andrea confronts stereotypes and negative attitudes toward women in the military, fights her own fear of failure, and pushes herself to prove her abilities and worth. Based on Efaw's experiences, the novel provides insights into long-held traditions at a mostly unfamiliar, formerly male-dominated institution. Intense depictions of pain and the mental and physical near atrocities plebes suffer make this compelling, at times stomach-turning, reading.-Gail Richmond, San Diego Unified Schools, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Each character is a distinctive amalgam of flaws, foibles and moral grit, at once fresh and credible.”
Arkansas Democrat–Gazette
“Anyone interested in a military academy should read Battle Dress. Everyone else should read it because it’s a great story.”

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.98(w) x 11.70(h) x 0.77(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Friday, June 26

7:15 a.m.

The morning I left for West Point, nobody showed up at my house to say good-bye. I thought that at least someone from the track team–maybe even my coach–might drop by to wish me luck. But nobody did.

So I went to sit on the curb at the bottom of our driveway and waited to leave. I watched my sister and brother get into our blue Volvo station wagon as my dad tossed the last bag into the back and slammed the trunk. He went over to the driver's side and popped the hood. He checked the oil for the second time. Finally, he scowled at the front door and blasted the horn three long times.

My mother stuck her frizzy, uncombed head outside and shrieked, "Do you want to eat today, Ted? I'm throwing some food together. Just sit there and wait."

"I've been waiting," he yelled back. "Now it's time to leave. Didn't we agree we'd leave at seven? Well, now it's almost eight!"

"I'll leave when I'm good and ready. So just shut up! You–" Then her eyes locked on me. "Andi's not even in the car! So what's the big deal? Isn't she why we're going in the first place?" Her head disappeared as the door slammed.

My dad glared at me and barked, "You heard your mother. Get in the car!"

I sighed, then got up off the curb and headed for the backseat. One thousand miles. Can't wait for this trip to be over.

"Move over!" my sister yelled at my brother as I climbed in. "What's your problem, Randy? You always sit in the middle."

Mybrother sulked and slid over. Ten years ago, strapped into his car seat, he'd spat into my hair and smeared partially eaten graham crackers on anything within his reach. Now, at least, his annoying car behavior was limited to blowing out his eardrums with heavy metal on his Walkman. "Just keep your pile of books on your side–" He smirked. "Mandie."

She shoved him away. "Fine. If you keep your reeking breath on your side. Do you ever brush your teeth? And don't call me Mandie. I told you, from now on it's Amanda. That's what's on my birth certificate. Don't you think it's tacky that all our names rhyme?"

"No, I think it's cool, Mandie."

My mother yanked open the door to the passenger's side. "You left the window open in our bedroom," she said to my dad as they both got into the car. "The one over your precious computer. Ever hear of rain?" She crammed a grocery bag on the seat between them and dropped her purse to the floor. Then she turned around and frowned at my brother. "You have those things on already?"

He shrugged. "Blocks out your voice." He turned up the volume and closed his eyes.

My mother snorted, my dad started the car, and my sister opened her book.

West Point, here we come!

Before we even made it out of the driveway, my mother started complaining to my dad that the radio was too loud, and why did he always have to listen to the sports station? My dad said that she could pick the station when she started doing the driving.

As we whizzed down I-90 past the Sears Tower, my mother turned off the air-conditioning, opened her window, and commanded, "Open your windows, kids. Let's get a nice breeze going." Immediately, hot, sticky air wafted in.

My dad punched the air back on and said in his I'm-trying-to-remain-in-control voice, "Roll up your windows, kids. We need to cool this car off."

My mother shut it off. My dad turned it on. My mother shut it off.

Meanwhile, Mandie, Randy, and I were sweating, our legs sticking to the vinyl seats.

Finally, Mandie slammed down her paperback and yelled, "Would you stop acting like a couple of babies? Just leave the air on. Stop being so cheap, Mom."

"I'm not being cheap." She stuck her hand out the window. "It's nice outside, and I just want to enjoy it a little. Is that so bad?"

"You call ninety-three degrees with ninety-five percent humidity 'nice'?" Randy asked.

I guess he can't block out her voice after all.

"Just leave it on," Mandie said. "Andi will be gone in a few days. Can't you attempt to limit the amount of misery she is forced to endure?"

I smiled. For as long as I could remember, Mandie had always stuck up for me, like a big sister should. Except she wasn't my big sister. She was two years younger than I. Maybe she felt guilty because I caught so much grief and she rarely did.

"Well," my mother snapped, "you can at least turn it down, Ted. It doesn't have to be on so hard." For some reason, my mother always listened to Mandie.

I could tell right away that this bad day was only going to get worse when we stopped to fill up at a Texaco station outside Hammond, Indiana.

"I think it's crazy that we have to stop so soon," my mother whined. "Why didn't you fill up before we left? You know gas costs more on the expressway."

"Because," my dad said, watching the numbers roll on the pump, "if we would've stopped in town, we never would've gotten out of there! You would've said, 'I need to run into Jewel real quick to get something.' Then it would've been Kmart, then . . ."

"Oh, just shut up, you dumb–"

"Watch your mouth!" my dad spat.

She finished her sentence anyway.

Shortly after we crossed the Indiana-Ohio border, my mother pointed to a rest stop. "Pull over here, Ted. I have to pee."

"You just went," my dad said as he sped past the stop. "And do you have to be so crass? Say 'urinate.'"

"I told you to pull over! I really have to go!"

"No! We're making terrible time. In a couple of hours we'll need to fill up with gas. We'll stop then."

"A couple of hours?" she howled. "Who do you think you are, God? You can't dictate when I can and cannot pee." She emphasized the word "pee."

"Oh, yes I can! I'm driving. I decide when we stop."

"Then I'll drive!" she screamed, grabbing the steering wheel. The car swerved into the left lane, nearly hitting a red pickup truck. Car horns blared all around us. I grabbed the door handle to brace myself.

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Battle Dress 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really good. Since I'm interested in attending a military academy, It really gave me an idea on how it would be. I reccomend it to all even for first time readers.
Desire- More than 1 year ago
I am reading Battle Dress by Amy Efaw. I thought the book was great. its about a girl named Andi who goes to a military school at West Point. She thinks that she's worthless there she finds that she is good enough to be there and she belongs there to. The main character was Andi and she ran into a lot of problems. The main problem is that there is only one other girl besides her. There are a lot of guys there so there always think there better then them. The adventure is when they march into the forest to there camp. I could relate to andi when her parents think that she worthless, how her parents drink, and how they aren't very good or nice they are. If I could change one thing in the book it would have to be that there might be that there might be a romance between Andi and Cadet Daily. I would highly recommend this book to another person.i would suggest this book to anyone that likes to read good books.
Elaine Castro More than 1 year ago
Lexa555 More than 1 year ago
This book is great even if you don't have an interest in West Point. It is a great book about a female making it in a "man's" world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anyone who plans to attend West Point needs to read this book. Ms. Efaw writes in a clear concise manner that will keep the reader entertained from the first page to the last.
Daisyawesome97 More than 1 year ago
This book is amazingg !!!!!!!!!!!! It changed my life for everr now i actually want to join the military after reading this.<3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! They did not make the army life easy for the main character nor did they make her the best which I really appreciated. Though I must say the shipper in me was hoping for a little romance! Anyway a must read truly fantastic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, and i couldn't stop reading it once i started!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is great. Really brings back memories for anyone with military experience. Triggered every emotion and really gives a honest view of West Point.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was such a powerful read even for me as a teacher. I have always loved information about the Academy's and this book gives it to you straight! Wish she would write about the other academies as well!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This has nothin to do wit da book but has t do wit NJROTC program at my scool this summer a every summer they go to high adventure camp an it wud b amazing im gog ab it wud b fun so if u wana go an ur in high scool talk to ur commander or master sargent or who ever u have that teaches u i wuz told it wud b amazg this is only for ppl who live TN srry if som e else wants to go but the camp it takes place at is camp buck toms so if u eana go time is running out for u to talk to them an c if theres a money issue then that prob wont b a prob they may or may not have a shcolership money but then gain they might so jus talk to hem an u can go an have fun it is an overnight camp so u need to have packed a lot of clothes including ur UNIFORM U MUST BRING IT WITH U U WILL HAVE PERSONAL INSPECTION ON WENSDAY SO IF U DONT BRING U CANT GET THE RIBBONS THAT U CAN EARN WEN U R THERE IVE BEEN TOLD HT U CAN GET UP TO AT LEAST FIVE RIBBONS I ALRWADY HAVE SIX SO IF I GET THE OTHER FIVE THEN ILL HAVE A FULL UNIFORM VY THE TIE I GET HOME SO GO AN RALK TO R TEACHER IF U WANA GO AN U HAVE TO B IN THE NJROTC PROGRAM C YA LATER HAVE FUN
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the best in the world
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There SHOULD'VE been a romance between Andi & Cadet Daily. That would've been interesting to read about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My dad is in the milltary
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Guest More than 1 year ago
It was very Interesting and amusing to me i reconmmend reading this
Guest More than 1 year ago
Battle Dress is about a girl who has trouble at home. Her parents are always fighting, but they never get a divorce. So, during the summer teenagers go to camp. It makes me think about the war. They are not really in the war. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a sad and dramatic book. I could not put this book down!!!!