Andi Davis works to escape a flawed family and to prove who she is, to others and herself, by joining West Point Academy. Battle Dress follows a young girl named Andrea "Andi" Davis through her emotions and baggage as she enters the beginning of Basic Cadet Training at West Point.
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The day Andi leaves home to start college at West Point, her family hits multiple bumps in the road. Right away, her mother and father get into an argument about preparations for the drive. Followed by another once stopping for gas; and yet another on the road that leads to Andi's description of her mother's crazy moments. Andi's sister and brother drown out these events in their own way and Andi reveals that she had track and now West Point, which neither meets the approval of either parent.
Upon arriving, Andi is thrust immediately into the life of a cadet. She is part of the 3rd squad of the 3rd Platoon of H Company. Starting with the basics, like haircuts and how to walk properly, she moves through each step, learning, because she has to make it through and won't be the one who goes home. She meets and tries to get along with the other members of her squad, which has its obstacles.
Among drills, eating at the mess, morning marches, and memorizing the Plebe Bible; Andi finds an outlet in track. She shows her motivation to continue to be better than just good. Andi encounters others that fall short of what is required and her judgmental side is shown. Though she does show the confliction she feels when people she knows are put in that category.
The final week of her training takes her and her fellow new cadets out to Lake Frederich for field training. Andi is faced with real life circumstances, such as tear gas, leader training simulations, and real physical injuries. She rises in the ranks and becomes very well known when she is chosen as the female representative of H Company in the Iron Man Competition at the end of training. She is reluctant and her self doubt pushes through at first, but with the help of those around her, she pulls through and finishes, feeling stronger than ever. Returning to the academy at the end of summer, ready to begin the actual school year, Andi walks though the gates, a different person than who she was when she walked through them two months before.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked that this story gave an insight into a world that in some books, can seem confusing to understand how and why it works. This book made it very easy to understand the details of that world, without being over done with the description of those details.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is when Andi has just gone through her ranking cadet screaming at her in drills and once she is finished she slams the door to her room. The ranking cadet dismisses her roommate, who was in the room at the time, and talks to Andi alone. Not only is this a great scene where Andi does break down and reveals a broken part of herself but the Ranking cadet, who had up till now been seen as a living hell, showed his kind side.
Opinion about the main character:
What I liked most about Andi is how she shows her fierce side but is able to couple it very well with the weakness of self doubt. She is a character that the reader can easily see parts of themselves in and be connected to her story in that way.