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DEEP DARK BLUE
At the age of 18, Polo Tate held the world in her hands.
All-star athlete and straight-A student, a tomboy who modeled her way through high school, always surrounded by an adoring circle of friends and admirers; Polo was liked and respected not just for her good looks and stellar achievements, but for her radiant energy and her big heart, a positive attitude that gripped everyone in her path. Graduating from high school, she could go anywhere, achieve anything.
Polo chooses the Air Force Academy, her lifelong dream. She chooses a career that required both intellectual and athletic superiority. Even eleven-year-old Polo had known this was to be her path, inscribing dog tags with the letters I.W.T.B.I.T.A.F.S.D.—I Want To Be In The Air Force Some Day. She dreamed of being Top Gun, of wearing Air Force Blue.
Polo was, to say the least, driven. After losing her only sister in a tragic accident at the age of seven, Polo was determined to build a good life—a perfect, orderly life. She would be the best she could be, would give 200% to every task set in front of her, would protect and love and inspire the people around her at any cost to herself. She would be a light, an example. Her dream, written down at the start of the Academy, is to be “a stellar cadet—one who served honorably, touched a great number of people, and stood out as a beacon of bright shiny light.”
And so it is as she starts at the Airforce Academy, bright eyed and hopeful—maintaining the meticulous standard of dress and discipline, studying for classes, training for the volleyball team, earning the respect of her fellow cadets. Polo is well on the way of being that “beacon”—until two upperclassmen take all of it away, leaving Polo shattered, her life in pieces.
Polo is raped—not once, but twice. Two separate encounters, two different predators, layers of abuse of power and control that would make for a gripping novel except here the circumstances are devastatingly real.
Her predators’ message is clear: she is not to speak up. She is not to tell anyone what has happened.
Terrified to speak out against her superiors, she tries her best to move on, to keep her head above water, to maintain appearances. But Polo is drowning. She struggles—with herself, with what to do, how to go on—until she has no choice, until the words come out, the secret no longer just her burden to carry. Throughout the mayhem that ensues—the questions, the accusations, the denials—Polo must rediscover and reevaluate dreams, rediscover and reevaluate who she really is.
DEEP DARK BLUE is notable for exposing the dark recesses of the secretive, secure and elite institutions responsible for creating the leadership within our United States military. These institutions pride themselves on a unique culture imbued with tradition and structure that can only be explained by having experienced it… until now.
Naturally, Polo is also in a prime position to talk openly and honestly about the issue of sexual assault in the military, an issue that is unfortunately not going away. A 2012 Pentagon survey found that approximately 26,000 women and men were sexually assaulted that year alone. Of those 26,000, only 3,374 cases were reported. This is up from the already astronomical number of 19,000 men and women sexually assaulted in the military in 2010 alone. The Oscar-nominated film The Invisible War talked about the staggering number of active duty servicemen and women who have suffered the abuse and its fallout, but the statistics don’t even include what happens at our Nation’s Service Academies, the very institutions that educate, train, shape, and mold the officers of tomorrow. Polo can address this issue from the inside out, having fought and survived her own invisible war.
However, what’s truly notable about DEEP DARK BLUE is what an astonishingly powerful and inspirational story it is. It is so much more than a “rape in the military story”, nor is it simply an exclusive, fascinating look at the world of Service Academies. This is a universal story about going off to college full of hope and idealism. About the drive to succeed being clobbered by painful setbacks. And most poignantly, it is about working to overcome them, and finally moving on…. Hope, desire, hurt, pain, transcendence, survival, triumph. It is about meeting life, head-on.
Polo’s dog tags read, below her dream of attending the Academy: NO ONE CAN TAKE YOUR JOY.
That is how Polo lives; that is how she survives.
Shining through the behind-the-scenes look at military life, the shocking details of her assaults and their aftermath, and the ultimate trial and “redemption”, is Polo's inner life. Her integrity, strength, and profound ability to grow. DEEP DARK BLUE has the ingredient essential to all successful memoirs: a hero to care about, root for, and be deeply inspired by.
Polo Tate is a modern-day renaissance woman. Her talent is enormous; her energy, boundless. She loves life, lets no one take her joy, and avidly practices the belief that you can do anything you set your mind to do.
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