18-year-old Brook Searcy has just begun her first year at the Air Force Academy. Abandoned by her mother and raised by a loving yet distant father, Brook has surprised her traditional East Coast family by deciding to enter a completely foreign world -- the military. At the Academy she encounters both friends and terrifying foes, and experiences both first love and terrible loss as her relationships with her fellow cadets grow. Commandant John Waller, a former fighter pilot, has made the Air Force his life for nearly twenty years. His career couldn-t be in better shape, but he finds himself drifting away from his wife and daughters. And when a new (and female) Superintendent who-s never flown a plane becomes Waller-s new boss, he worries that the institution that he-s shaped his life around might be slipping away as well.Over the course of two years, terrible scandals and heartbreaking tragedy touch both Brook and Waller-s lives -- forcing them to make wrenching decisions that will shape both their careers and their lives.