The friends you make in college will always hold a special place in your heart. In Beyond the Point by Claire Gibson, we follow the stories of Dani, Hannah and Avery as they forge a lifelong friendship while attending West Point together as members of the basketball team. All three are different, but that doesn’t stop what is inevitable at college: forging friendship. Dani is the star basketball player, and she’s good at anything she puts her mind to. Her innate ability can make others jealous. Hannah is a the granddaughter of a military general who grew up in Texas. She is driven by her faith, and she finds the love of her life at West Point. Avery, a free and wild spirit, has a habit of dating challenging men and being let down.
The intertwined stories of the three main characters show the importance of friends, and their friendship grows as they make their way through the male dominated West Point with a horrible basketball coach. In the middle of their college years, September 11th happens, and it changes everything. Their training in college is now training for a guaranteed deployment, and over half of the book takes place after college. I’ve long been fascinated about life at West Point. A few years ago I read and reviewed Spirit Mission by Ted Russ, which is set at West Point. Both of these novels give outsiders like me a perspective of life that thousands of future soldiers are living right now.
As the three graduate and move into a world of careers, deployments, and life changing decisions, it’s hard not to look back on your own life to reflect. The book reminds you that as years grow between the present and when you graduated college, sometimes your best relationships grow apart for a while before something brings you together. While time ages you, it also ages your friendship. Time matures the friendship, and you learn that true friends will be there not when it’s easy, but when it’s hard.
Publisher’s Weekly said the book was an “ode to friendship,” and it is. Beyond the Point hooked me in through Gibson’s lyrical writing, and it didn’t let me go until the end. As with life filled with war, it can be brutal, and the book tore at my emotions, moving from highs to lows, like a seesaw. I listened to this novel, and the the audiobook was perfectly executed, using three different narrators for the three characters. The author brings an interesting perspective to writing this novel. Gibson grew up at West Point, and while she never attended the famed military academy, she writes like the insider that she is. I really enjoyed this inside perspective and the developing and inspiring friendships that unfold throughout the entire story. I highly recommend this emotionally fulfilling novel.