Toe the Line

Written by Deon McCarthy⎮ Narrated by Deon McCarthy

Author: Deon McCarthy
Narrator: Deon McCarthy
Length: 7 hour 23 minutes
Publisher: Deon McCarthy
Released: Dec. 7, 2020
Genre: Non-Fiction

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Sophia Rose's Review

4.5 Stars

This audiobook was provided by its author, Deon McCarthy, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thanks, Deon!

What is it like to go through Army Boot Camp? What better way to find out than to read of the experience as told by a soldier looking back on his days as a raw recruit learning the Army way.

I do not pick up memoirs and biographies as often as I should, but a quick glimpse of Toe the Line made me feel a need to engage with this soldier’s story. I come from a military family and I’ve heard my dad speak of days in Navy Boot Camp and his step-dad’s Army experience so I was curious to learn more. I wasn’t sure how Private Goode was going to tell his story- whether it was more about the people or more about the experience, but I settled in with my earbuds to see what someone else’s life was like.

Goode began his story from the point of high school recruitment meeting the recruiter on a whim when he was looking to ditch his Spanish class and then thought the training and promise of college sounded about right so off he went on the bus with four other Chicago recruits to Ft. Dix, New Jersey.

His sadness at leaving home, interest in the other recruits, and growing reservation about what was to come led him to a world wholly unlike anything before when he arrived at intake and then the basic training camp. Bruising drill sergeants getting up in people’s faces and making them wish they had never been born while pouring out so much new information they needed to process and learn quickly, and while forcing a gaggle of recruits to find a way to get several tasks done in a short amount of time.

It was painful and, yes, I am sorry to say I laughed at bit, reading of the first few hellific days Private Goode endured feeling worn out, bruised, and stumbling through it all. In truth his buddy Walker was the one my heart went out to. Boot camp is not for the thoroughly out of shape or weak of purpose- though, perhaps that is the point, it is meant to sort out those who are meant to go on and those who should find something else.

The details of life starting at 0darkthirty and ending at lights out when the guys and gals collapsed into their lumpy mattresses was not lacking. Goode told the details each day so well I felt like I was looking over his shoulder as I got his thoughts. The guys and gals were separated so he shared how the fumbling group of guys he was with all slowly figured out the routine, the skills and lessons they all needed to learn, and figured out, unconsciously on their part and consciously on the DS’ part, how to function as a team. The time there was physically taxing and mentally as well, but it was all to a purpose and by the end of the camp training the recruits all felt this settle on them. I wanted to yip and holler with them when they were given permission to yell after they finished and were now soldiers headed out to their personal training assignments at various bases.

This time spent with Private Goode would be supremely helpful to those considering the military, but also insightful to those of us who wish to learn more about the military life. I certainly felt a stronger respect than ever for those who signed up and serve. The author’s writing was superb with wry humor, good description, and an honesty to the subject that all shown through.

Deon McCarthy did his own narration work for Toe the Line. I am leery of authors choosing to do that because not everyone has a talent for audio. However, happily his voice and delivery made for a good listen. At times, it felt like he was merely reading the words, but for the most part I was lost in his story. I think it worked great to hear him telling his own story in his own words. Production quality was excellent.

All in all, Toe the Line was an unforgettable listen and I can recommend this book to those who enjoy military subject matter, memoirs of everyday people, or want to learn what to expect from Army Basic Training.

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