Hot Best Seller

Formation: A Woman's Memoir of Stepping Out of Line

Availability: Ready to download

Cheryl Strayed's Wild meets Anthony Swofford's Jarhead in this powerful literary memoir of a young Army recruit driven to prove herself in a man's world. Raised by powerful women in a restrictive, sheltered Christian community in New England, Ryan Dostie never imagined herself on the front lines of a war halfway around the world. But then a conversation with an Army recruit Cheryl Strayed's Wild meets Anthony Swofford's Jarhead in this powerful literary memoir of a young Army recruit driven to prove herself in a man's world. Raised by powerful women in a restrictive, sheltered Christian community in New England, Ryan Dostie never imagined herself on the front lines of a war halfway around the world. But then a conversation with an Army recruiter in her high-school cafeteria changes the course of her life. Hired as a linguist, she quickly has to find a space for herself in the testosterone-filled world of the Army barracks, and has been holding her own until the unthinkable happens: she is raped by a fellow soldier. Struggling with PTSD and commanders who don't trust her story, Dostie finds herself fighting through the isolation of trauma amid the challenges of an unexpected war. What follows is a riveting story of one woman's extraordinary journey to prove her worth, physically and mentally, in a world where the odds are stacked against her.


Compare

Cheryl Strayed's Wild meets Anthony Swofford's Jarhead in this powerful literary memoir of a young Army recruit driven to prove herself in a man's world. Raised by powerful women in a restrictive, sheltered Christian community in New England, Ryan Dostie never imagined herself on the front lines of a war halfway around the world. But then a conversation with an Army recruit Cheryl Strayed's Wild meets Anthony Swofford's Jarhead in this powerful literary memoir of a young Army recruit driven to prove herself in a man's world. Raised by powerful women in a restrictive, sheltered Christian community in New England, Ryan Dostie never imagined herself on the front lines of a war halfway around the world. But then a conversation with an Army recruiter in her high-school cafeteria changes the course of her life. Hired as a linguist, she quickly has to find a space for herself in the testosterone-filled world of the Army barracks, and has been holding her own until the unthinkable happens: she is raped by a fellow soldier. Struggling with PTSD and commanders who don't trust her story, Dostie finds herself fighting through the isolation of trauma amid the challenges of an unexpected war. What follows is a riveting story of one woman's extraordinary journey to prove her worth, physically and mentally, in a world where the odds are stacked against her.

30 review for Formation: A Woman's Memoir of Stepping Out of Line

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kelley

    (As a retired Army Senior Noncommisioned Officer and OIF Veteran, I celebrate and honor the warrior who is Ryan. And yes... PTSD is a m----er f----er!) In her book, "Formation: A Woman’s Memoir of Stepping Out of Line," author Ryan Leigh Dostie narrates her personal experiences as a soldier in combat–at work and at home–engaged in a battle to survive not only war, but the most personal betrayal imaginable, rape by another soldier. This autobiographical recounting of, and accounting for a female s (As a retired Army Senior Noncommisioned Officer and OIF Veteran, I celebrate and honor the warrior who is Ryan. And yes... PTSD is a m----er f----er!) In her book, "Formation: A Woman’s Memoir of Stepping Out of Line," author Ryan Leigh Dostie narrates her personal experiences as a soldier in combat–at work and at home–engaged in a battle to survive not only war, but the most personal betrayal imaginable, rape by another soldier. This autobiographical recounting of, and accounting for a female soldier’s time in the Army, is a warrior’s story of institutional assimilation, indoctrination, alienation, and transformation. Humans tell stories, and stories can comprise narratives about our lives, carrying themes over periods of time. Narratives help us make sense of our world, often structuring meaning in ways that reflect a culture. We survive through the sharing of our stories as they not only serve to communicate culture, but also enable us to speak truth to power. Some narratives can withstand the test of time; they are almost unassailable as accepted truths (i.e., women do not belong in combat, she was drunk, she wanted it, she didn't say no, women are treated equitably in the Army). For narratives that persist in certain contexts (the military) resistance is only possible through counter-stories, giving a voice to the silenced. As an institution, the military insists upon uniformity, cohesiveness, fidelity, and adherence to its rules of conduct. However, these institutional narratives often subsume the voices of women as a marginalized population. Likewise, those suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have frequently been silenced through military narratives not conducive to being a “trauma victim,” (suck it up, power through it, tough it out, be resilient). As survivors of the physical, psychological, and emotional wounds inflicted during combat, military sexual trauma (MST) survivors suffer double exposure. Dostie’s account is both tragic and epic. Analyzing her story through a critical feminist lens situates it as “an equal opportunity to participate, to criticize, to express personal aims and attitudes, and to perform these acts without regard to power or ideology” (Walter Fisher, 1985). Dostie’s autobiographical book works rhetorically as an oppositional narrative or counter-story to the dominant narratives of military culture, especially those located inside the frames of war, trauma, and what comes after. Though Dostie's writing may have been aimed toward catharsis, it is a also an adept critique of the hegemonic masculinity inherent in the Army. Women move about as if unrecognized, and are relegated to 'passing'. They endure violence and harassment in silence. For many who do choose to pursue justice–as Dostie does–the system utterly fails them. For women to be heard in relation to justice, authoring a personal story may be their only recourse, as it subverts canonical narratives while providing empowerment–in effect, it becomes a form of justice. Ryan Dostie’s masterful–gritty and gutsy–vignettes challenge military narratives of equality opportunity and fair treatment of women. For female veterans, until MST, or more pointedly, military rape is adequately addressed by more responsive military legal action, oppositional narratives may be her only means of achieving a semblance of justice and addressing unseen wounds. Being an audience for autobiographical accounts of women in service may give us a glimpse into lives that are pushing back in a daily struggle. As veterans, when we share stories and construct new meanings, we are at a site of resistance. When we write we are also at a site of healing. We share from the depths of our souls and write the breadth of our dreams, forging something meaningful from the ashes of our grief and pain. We are transformed from victims to survivors; pawns to warriors.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    You don't want to miss it...this is the memoir that will make a huge impact for it gives voice to female veterans and servicewomen. You don't want to miss it...this is the memoir that will make a huge impact for it gives voice to female veterans and servicewomen.

  3. 5 out of 5

    paulinereidbookreviewer

    Book Review/Book Recommendation Formation Author - Ryan Dostie Hardback - 358 pages Genre - memoir TRIGGER WARNING - Rape issues and self harm. My thoughts I won this book as a giveaway about a year ago, through Instagram/Bookstagram that Kara Harte hosted ...... The first chapter did it for me, like Ryan Dostie, the drink that lured her to her bed, lured me into reading more... I wanted more of this. You know, as I grew to know more about "what really goes on in an army behind closed doors" that blaz Book Review/Book Recommendation Formation Author - Ryan Dostie Hardback - 358 pages Genre - memoir TRIGGER WARNING - Rape issues and self harm. My thoughts I won this book as a giveaway about a year ago, through Instagram/Bookstagram that Kara Harte hosted ...... The first chapter did it for me, like Ryan Dostie, the drink that lured her to her bed, lured me into reading more... I wanted more of this. You know, as I grew to know more about "what really goes on in an army behind closed doors" that blaze feel of admiration for men in the army I have, changed. Yes, it burst my bubble, yes, it left me broken, yes it has changed me for ever, completely and utterly. Here is a woman, yes a woman .... female, who wanted to do her own thing, who gets violated and raped. It left me sad, it left me annoyed. . Have you ever heard the words "guilty until proven innocent"? .... because for me, as the story moves towards the "interrogation" part, this is what it felt like. The army, as the author describes it, or rather the men, are female haters, probably because the author is an invasion into their society where only men dare tread, they feel threatened, so their coward way out is to taunt, tease and humiliate. I wouldn't say I particularly "liked" this book, as it opens a gash, a wound, the truth, of what can and has happened and probably has happened in other male dominated places with woman in it. As I read along more, it struck me, that really the author was a total emotional wreck and really needed counselling, but due to the nature of her case, if she asked for it, I would very much doubt she would have got it. . . Quote I enjoyed Let me explain here, I didn't really enjoy it, but, I couldn't believe I read it! "Do you really want to ruin this guy's life" I mean, come on!! Seriously? I gaped with my mouth wide open when I read this. ..... and gruelling and grotesque in places. "When I put my hand on his jaw, you know, to open it, it just ... came off in my hand." . . Well that was the beginning of the memoir, we readers then fall out of line and discover the first 11 years of the authors life, which includes some sort of religious cult (my eyes roll up to the celing and I groan).... and her life leading onto how she managed to get into the army in the first place. The author goes on to explain how she ended up in the army in the first place, what her solider mates were like and describes certain combat scenarios with us ..... I thought though that the doctor gave good advice saying not to go drinking for 9 months when she was having medical issues, but I thought it was quite silly of her not to take the advice .... it was obvious to me then, that alcohol was going to become the enemy of war. The author puts herself on the line (no pun intended) to tell a story that is true, this book SHOULD BE used as a documentary series. No, you won't get any hot lips Houlihan here, this ones more of a tough cookie to crack open, although during her years she lacked confidence, but I would say thats more to do with not being wise, even the author admits she was naive. This, and many more memoirs Ive read before, have the same purpose, to reveal to anyone interested that life is not full of a bed of roses, there are thorns, but without thorns, where would we be? Thorns, although may break us, they also makes us too. This is definitely not an airy fairy book, oh no, not a chance, not pretty, pretty, but gritty gritty, not like icecream and waves on a beach, but more like a gritty sand on a rough sea.... it may even give you sea sickness, or if that sea is icy cold, like ice cream ... brain freeze 😣 . Note To Oneself - strong, obsense language applies (R18). This was a DNF - Stopped at Chapter - rage against the machine - p229. Why? I know I don't have to explain myself, but this was too much out of my comfort zone to handle, it's an extremely powerful book, too much for me to handle. Rating System ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 star rating. Recommendation Pick this book up if you are into memoirs, especially if you are interested in the army, or used to be in the army, or even if you are writing about the army. A good one if you are wanting combat battle scenes, as you wont be disappointed, they are ugly! . . Follow/Contact me on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/6... Blog https://paulinereidbookreviewer.wordp... Facebook https://www.facebook.com/paulinereidb... Twitter https://mobile.twitter.com/paulinerei... Instagram http://www.instagram.com/paulinereidb... You Tube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJEW... Podcast https://open.spotify.com/show/2cbi4as... BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/32512... PicsArt https://picsart.com/paulinereid_

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Paine

    Without giving it away, this book is a journey. A journey some may recognize as one like their own, while others may find it somewhat foreign yet still relatable. You don't have to be military to appreciate this tale. She does a great job breaking down the nuance that might otherwise go over the civilian head. And the heart of her story is not just about "an incident," but about a life. A life formed by many experiences: many people, many places, and many moments of fear, doubt, confidence, expe Without giving it away, this book is a journey. A journey some may recognize as one like their own, while others may find it somewhat foreign yet still relatable. You don't have to be military to appreciate this tale. She does a great job breaking down the nuance that might otherwise go over the civilian head. And the heart of her story is not just about "an incident," but about a life. A life formed by many experiences: many people, many places, and many moments of fear, doubt, confidence, expectation, rage, love, hate, and acceptance. Like all stories, hers is not yet finished, but like all stories, hers is worth reading. Worth knowing. Not all of us are brave enough to put them onto paper, to share them with strangers, open to judgement and criticism from people we don't know. Let her words inspire you, her told adventures enable you--to be a vehicle to help you to maybe share your own insecurity, vulnerability, and strength with the world. All stories are worth knowing. Including hers. And yours. And maybe mine...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    I devoured this book in 2 days, living in Ryan's skin, not breathing very well when she couldn't. It's an amazing book, and makes you re-think what you think you know about those first tours in Iraq, PTSD, depression, the simple fact of being female, and how one claws back from trauma. I'm so glad that I saw Aimee Mann's recommendation on Instagram, because I might not have found it otherwise. What an amazing woman, and what an amazing piece of writing. I devoured this book in 2 days, living in Ryan's skin, not breathing very well when she couldn't. It's an amazing book, and makes you re-think what you think you know about those first tours in Iraq, PTSD, depression, the simple fact of being female, and how one claws back from trauma. I'm so glad that I saw Aimee Mann's recommendation on Instagram, because I might not have found it otherwise. What an amazing woman, and what an amazing piece of writing.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    If you are looking for a fantastic coming-of-age memoir that will give you SO much to think about, I have the book for you.  Formation is the incredible true story of a woman joining the army and leaving behind all that is familiar.  Growing up in a sheltered Christian community, Ryan strikes up a conversation with an Army recruiter (who visits her high school), that leads her to sign up to join the troops. Ryan is hired as a linguist and finds the environment challenging, as a woman and as som If you are looking for a fantastic coming-of-age memoir that will give you SO much to think about, I have the book for you.  Formation is the incredible true story of a woman joining the army and leaving behind all that is familiar.  Growing up in a sheltered Christian community, Ryan strikes up a conversation with an Army recruiter (who visits her high school), that leads her to sign up to join the troops. Ryan is hired as a linguist and finds the environment challenging, as a woman and as someone who has been sheltered so lovingly by her family.  One night Ryan is raped by a fellow soldier and this story, HER story, is about the aftermath of reporting the soldier and how this begins to impact her career and reputation. While the story of the assault is just a couple of pages, it is powerful, raw, and honest. What makes this one more compelling though is the journey that Ryan takes as she learns to love herself again and find peace within her body. It's such a journey too and I'm thankful she shared it in such an honest way. I also learned SO MUCH about what it would be like to be serving in the Army as a woman.  There are so many aspects to this complicated role that I never knew about. I, truly, have even more respect for our women soldiers and the obstacles they face daily.  I reached out to Ryan to share how thankful I was to read her story and she has agreed to join us for our book chat this year.  I can't wait to talk about her story with you and I know that EVERYONE will learn something new after reading this one. You can learn more about this year's book club here.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kara Harte (KattitudeReads)

    “A few hours before I am raped, two officers in a bar try to corner me and steal my panties.” And with that jarring first line, Formation by Ryan Leigh Dostie begins, hitting the ground running. A lyrically written novel that embodies the Hemingway quote, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein,” Dostie lays bare the deepest depths of herself in this debut memoir. In boldly and candidly telling her truth, Dostie inspires. Formation dives right into the “A few hours before I am raped, two officers in a bar try to corner me and steal my panties.” And with that jarring first line, Formation by Ryan Leigh Dostie begins, hitting the ground running. A lyrically written novel that embodies the Hemingway quote, “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein,” Dostie lays bare the deepest depths of herself in this debut memoir. In boldly and candidly telling her truth, Dostie inspires. Formation dives right into the trauma that will change Ryan Dostie forever – the night she is betrayed in the worst way by a fellow soldier when he rapes her. The events that transpire after this heinous act of violence shines a blaring spotlight on the culture of toxic masculinity within our own military. And what happens when our women warriors refuse to ‘go gentle.’ Raised surrounded by a group of powerful women, Ryan Leigh Dostie was never a girl destined to be a shrinking violet. Taught to embrace her own worth and desires from a young age, unintimidated by barriers that could get in her way, Ryan grows from a wonderfully wild little girl into a brilliant, spunky, adventurous young woman. So it’s no surprise that promises of thrilling endeavors draws Dostie to the army as a linguist. The army turns out to be both wonderful and terrible. And never what she expects. Thrust into a male-dominated establishment unwelcoming to women, Dostie still manages to hold her own in the army with grit and sharp wits. But, after the vicious assault she suffers in her barracks room that night, when Ryan doesn’t adhere to the subliminal rule of ‘shut up and suck it up’ that’s been drilled into her since basic training, the commanders that are there to protect her utterly – and willfully - fail her. Even with a crime scene, with physical evidence, they look this woman in the eyes and tell her they don’t believe her. They cherry pick her statements, selecting snippets that suit their fabricated retelling of the crime. They bully, sneer, blame, and try to humiliate her for speaking up. They protect a rapist. These leaders chosen to be thus because of their valor and great endevours, force a victim to bare the shame of an assailant, shame that never belongs to her. While her attacker walks around albatross-less, she is ostracized like a leper, even though she’s not the one clothed in the boils. It is a second violation. Even when recounting the turbulence, Dostie always seems to find moments of light within the dark to focus on. Instances of kindness and compassion from friends, from family - even a few strangers - are made evermore poignant for their rarity. And as she wages this war for justice, Dostie soon gets sent off to fight in another war, all the way in Iraq. Her battle scars take on the form of PTSD. What follows is Dostie dealing with the aftermath of trauma and war. Can you ever really heal from something from which there is no closure, no justice? Ryan answers this question by showing us. In present-tense, she immerses us in another time. You feel every nuance of emotion as your own. All the rage, disbelief, heartbreak, triumph, resilience - it seeps into your amygdala. Formation is not just sitting down and reading a book. It is leaping into another dimension to stand juxtaposed with Dostie in her shoes. Formation is a story for everyone. Though we all may have different backgrounds and journeys, the human experience is universal. Formation, at its core, is a starkly human journey. Dostie’s writing vividly captures the marrow of what it is to be human. The one truth we all know is that life is both gutting and glorious. We all have faced adversity, we have all been vulnerable to someone we trust, we have felt the burbling of happiness in our bellies, and we have all fought for something that mattered. It is by being utterly real in her humanity that Dostie connects powerfully with readers from all walks of life. The message in Formation is a timely and vital one in the #metoo era. The message is this: you are not alone, and you are never to blame. The way rape victims are treated is not acceptable. There is nothing in this world that justifies sexual assault. And the tradition of victim blaming needs to end. Sexual assault survivors deserve justice, for their voices to be heard. Not omitted. Consequences are for perpetrators, not victims. And the military cannot hide the way sexual assault has been grossly mishandled within its walls forever. It has to stop. We need to be the ones to fight for those changes. To fight for those who have been silenced. I have high hopes that Formation will shake up this world, and help those who have lost their voices find them. Formation is a vindicated fist raised in the air. A rally for change. A self-reclamation, a narrative repossessed. It is a woman whom, even when she feels shattered to bits like Humpty Dumpty, has a lionhearted spirit that burns undimmed, as incandescent as it did when she was a child. A spirit that their barriers never did stop. It is a woman who has been heard. A woman who is believed. Formation is a book whose echoes will linger with you long after you’ve closed the pages. 5/5 stars, and HIGHLY recommended. Formation lives up to all the hype, and is well-deserving of its spots at the top of summer reading lists. I look forward to more work from Ryan Leigh Dostie in the future, and foresee a bright career ahead. Now, book and author, go soar and make waves!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dave Wolfe

    Full disclosure: I know the author. I don't think I would have read this book otherwise. Put that fact aside. I was not fully aware of what Ryan went though during her time in the military. In discussions with her over the years, I found out she was raped by a fellow soldier; that the army tried to downplay it; and that she has suffered from PTSD. However, all of this was more like a basic outline of her full story. Formation captivated me. That was partially due to my friendship with Ryan. But Full disclosure: I know the author. I don't think I would have read this book otherwise. Put that fact aside. I was not fully aware of what Ryan went though during her time in the military. In discussions with her over the years, I found out she was raped by a fellow soldier; that the army tried to downplay it; and that she has suffered from PTSD. However, all of this was more like a basic outline of her full story. Formation captivated me. That was partially due to my friendship with Ryan. But her story is so much deeper than I ever expected. It is not so much about her as it is how a rape incident is poorly handled by her military leadership. It more than an Iraq war veteran story. It is about how some people, particularly those who are relied upon to help, put the onus on the victim. It is not an easy read. The words are bold. Some may be offended and, as a result. miss key points. I admit that this book made me think. That's always a good sign. For example, for years I've heard debates about the role of women in the military. Can they handle the "toughness"? Can they be "one of the guys"? But what happens when they act similar to their male counterparts? I remember watch M.A.S.H. on TV. Set in during the Korean conflict, there was a somewhat schizophrenic relationship the men had with the women. In many cases, the men treated the women as sex symbols. In one episode, the men planted themselves outside of a makeshift shower that was booby traped to collapse while their female counterparts where showering. Of course, this provided great entertainment to the men despite the embarrassment to the ladies. Without giving away too much, there a somewhat parallel scene in Formation. But how much fun is it when its the scene is reciprocated, just like "one of the guys"? Formation is a very relevant book in today's world. It's value goes well beyond the military. While it is not the finest book I've ever read, it is an extremely memorable one.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    I finished this book last night. I did not enjoy it at all. I read as a hobby and for entertainment. It's hard for me to 'not like' someone's life or experiences but if you put it in book form and put it out there and sell it, I guess I have the right to not like it. I made myself finish it hoping the poor main character's life would get better and it did, finally after a long torturous journey, but our main character was so beat up and worn down she couldn't tell good from bad or be happy. So s I finished this book last night. I did not enjoy it at all. I read as a hobby and for entertainment. It's hard for me to 'not like' someone's life or experiences but if you put it in book form and put it out there and sell it, I guess I have the right to not like it. I made myself finish it hoping the poor main character's life would get better and it did, finally after a long torturous journey, but our main character was so beat up and worn down she couldn't tell good from bad or be happy. So sad this poor woman didn't seek help or have a person in her life to turn to. Finally she finds her husband who seems a source of strength but she never really declares herself happy nor do I feel she'll ever know what happiness is. Wish her parents had guided her better early on to believe she could do better than join the Army. I know I'll make no friends with the following statement, but women don't belong in the military. I've seen it first hand being a military wife. Not because they can't do the job, they can and do it well, but because they are too good for it. It's a horrible place for women. They are treated terribly under the guise that it builds character. It does not. The environment is hostile, abusive and demeaning. I'm sorry that the main character is sad and wasted her younger years trying to overcome what happened to her. I'm sorry I forced myself to finish this book. I should give it one star, but guilt myself into giving it two.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Patricia O'Neill

    Stunning. Inspiring. Raw. Real. Read this book. I received an early copy of Formation and could not put it down. This is a story that needs to be shared. A sharp, honest account of one woman's experiences. She's not a victim or a martyr but a real woman living a real and raw life. The courage and self-reflection it takes to bring this story to the world is awesome. The writing is superb, and draws the reader in to feel and process experiences with the author. It's truth, painful and beautiful. I Stunning. Inspiring. Raw. Real. Read this book. I received an early copy of Formation and could not put it down. This is a story that needs to be shared. A sharp, honest account of one woman's experiences. She's not a victim or a martyr but a real woman living a real and raw life. The courage and self-reflection it takes to bring this story to the world is awesome. The writing is superb, and draws the reader in to feel and process experiences with the author. It's truth, painful and beautiful. I've got preorders in for family and friends. It's my first time sharing books like this - it is THAT good.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Katrina

    "At the start and end of the work day my rapist and I stand in formation together. This is a certainty. But at least in formation I know where he is. I see him. I mark his space and his distance from mine, a mental measuring tape that I try to stretch as far as allowed. It's the time between those forced encounters that terrorize me though." Ryan gives a voice to females everywhere in this moving memoir. I found myself letting out my breath when I didn't even know I was holding it. This book will "At the start and end of the work day my rapist and I stand in formation together. This is a certainty. But at least in formation I know where he is. I see him. I mark his space and his distance from mine, a mental measuring tape that I try to stretch as far as allowed. It's the time between those forced encounters that terrorize me though." Ryan gives a voice to females everywhere in this moving memoir. I found myself letting out my breath when I didn't even know I was holding it. This book will make you think twice about what you think you know about rape, PTSD, females in the military, civilian life, parenting, and more. We need more voices like Ryan.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Harold Walters

    This book should be left behind when soldiers move from place to place so over time hundreds (thousands?) of soldiers get to read it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bookphile

    This was such a brutal, savage, uncomfortable read, and I am glad I read it. Dostie's honesty is raw and hard to read at times, but it's also so necessary to furthering our understanding of trauma, rape, and the problematic culture not just of our military, but American culture at large. Reading about Dostie's assault and its aftermath hurts. It hurts to witness how indifferent the military was to her, how eager it was to bury her report because it just didn't want to deal with it. It hurts to se This was such a brutal, savage, uncomfortable read, and I am glad I read it. Dostie's honesty is raw and hard to read at times, but it's also so necessary to furthering our understanding of trauma, rape, and the problematic culture not just of our military, but American culture at large. Reading about Dostie's assault and its aftermath hurts. It hurts to witness how indifferent the military was to her, how eager it was to bury her report because it just didn't want to deal with it. It hurts to see how person after person justifies their indifference or waves her assault away. It hurts to read about how often women are treated as less than human, as if the crimes committed against them don't really matter because women themselves don't really matter. I have a difficult time seeing how anyone can read this book and not be shocked by the utter and complete lack of empathy with which Dostie was met in the aftermath of her assault. The sad part is, her story isn't unique either. Women are far, far too often met with this kind of lack of urgency, and it's hard to see what conclusion can be drawn other than that the system simply doesn't care. Skimming a couple of reviews, I noticed some people saying that this book proves women shouldn't be in the military, and I frankly find that stance alarming. It ignores the harms inflicted not just on Dostie, but on her male counterparts. It ignores the suicide of one of Dostie's male squadmates, ignores what she says about other male soldiers brutally raping Iraqi teenagers. The problem isn't the women in the military, the problem is the military. The problem is the cult the U.S. has built up around its military forces, this idea that everyone who serves is a heroic, G.I. Joe figure. Don't get me wrong, I have massive respect for those who volunteer to defend their country, who give their lives for our experiment in democracy. However, it is very obvious there is a critical problem with our military and the effect it has on those who serve. Statistics prove over and over that far too many service members end up sacrificing both their physical and mental health, and that when they return, access to the services they need and deserve to help them return to civilian life and receive treatments for their injuries is woefully inadequate. Americans need to stop and think about these issues, to question why so many of our veterans end up homeless or commit suicide. The presence of women in the military is not causing this problem. This problem has always existed, it's just that it was largely invisible until the advent of social media and the brave service members who've come forward to share their stories. Yet fixing military culture will not be possible without also fixing our larger culture. I feel like we're at a watershed moment in our history thanks to the #MeToo movement, which is forcing people to face the many indignities and acts of aggression committed against women. The vast numbers of women who have come forward, like Dostie, make it hard to pretend the problem isn't real, that it's not a big deal, that it doesn't affect all that many women. And it's a problem that is not going to go away until we reckon with the way society views men and women differently, that privileges male power and male privilege over female safety. I think a good example comes from Dostie's belief that had she not been drunk, she could have prevented her assault. It's easy to say women should take steps to protect themselves, because that's easier than facing the real heart of this problem. Women shouldn't have to take steps to protect themselves because men should not rape. How often do men have to worry about getting drunk? How often do they need to stop and wonder if they might end up the victim of an assault? We don't suggest murder victims should have tried harder not to get killed, so I've never understood the argument that rape victims should try harder not to get raped. The one thing that did bother me about Dostie's memoir, though, was the fat phobia running through it. I understand that in a culture that prize physical prowess and superiority, appearing weak and ineffective is viewed as offensive. However, perpetuating the belief that fat equals lazy and unhealthy in all cases and that thin equals active and healthy in all cases is problematic. Dostie's trauma manifests itself in a lot of ways, but her physical abuse of her own body through her extreme dieting and exercise regimen is cause for concern. It also bothered me that being fat was equated with being unattractive. In many ways, this whole attitude is part of the umbrella of sexism under which women live, because messages about how women ought to look physically are just one aspect of the myriad ways in which women are policed. I certainly wish Dostie's book had a fairy tale conclusion, that she was able to say that all her problems have been resolved and she now lives a carefree life, but I very much appreciated that she provided an accurate window into the reality of living with a mental illness. We like to think it's possible to just fix everything by taking a pill or doing meditation or going through therapy, but it's important to understand the complexities of mental illness. Like any other chronic illness for which there are no cures (asthma and MS, just to give two examples), managing the condition is the only real option. Medication and therapy and exercise and a healthy diet can help, but they can't fix the problem, and it's important for there to be realistic portrayals of what it means to live with an illness. This is a simply stunning book, and I hope it ends up in the hands of many, many readers.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anne S

    This book caught my attention, grabbed my attention and kept it through the entire book! This is the story about a young woman who joined the Army to become a Japanese Linguist, only to be told she was going to be learning Persian Farsi. For those of you who don't know, the Army will promise you lots but "the needs of the Army come first" and where you end up, you end up! She gets to Ft Sill, Oklahoma and ends up getting raped by a fellow soldier, only to be told by her higher command, it didn't h This book caught my attention, grabbed my attention and kept it through the entire book! This is the story about a young woman who joined the Army to become a Japanese Linguist, only to be told she was going to be learning Persian Farsi. For those of you who don't know, the Army will promise you lots but "the needs of the Army come first" and where you end up, you end up! She gets to Ft Sill, Oklahoma and ends up getting raped by a fellow soldier, only to be told by her higher command, it didn't happen. It was her fault. "You don't ruin to a guy's career do you?" You don't ask like someone who has been raped! What the F--? is that supposed to mean. She holds on and continues on to finish out her time in the Army by going over to Iraq right after 9/11/01. She goes and does her duty in spite of not being believed, being the butt of the jokes, and being a woman in a mostly male cadre. This book is amazing because she is able to tell us what she went through, how the Army hid her rape and tried to say it didn't happen and what that incident did to her, both while she was in the Army and once she was out. This book should be required reading of everyone in the military service and shows us why rapes should be taken outside the chain of command so that deviants can be held accountable for their crimes. One thing (in the middle of the book) that I appreciated is that the women were supposed to wear their overshirts when they went to take showers or pee because they might excite the men if they just wore their tshirts! The men, on the other hand, were able to walk around in the compound with just their tshirts. That is, until a woman who had rank over their ranking captain told the men they also had to wear their overshirts to go pee and use the showers if the women did. It didn't take very much time until they (all the soldiers both men and women) were able to walk around camp in their tshirts! Thank you Ryan for showing us your spirit and rising above it. You are truly an inspiration. Keep on writing!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Reynolds

    Dostie's memoir is well written with an important message. Actually, many important messages. It's a book about rape. It's a book about war. It's a book about PTSD. If you have been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted, this book is important because it lets you know you're not alone. If you have been deployed in the Army and felt the after effects of deployment, you will know you're not alone. If you have felt a struggle with mental illness, you will know you're not alone. And if you haven't e Dostie's memoir is well written with an important message. Actually, many important messages. It's a book about rape. It's a book about war. It's a book about PTSD. If you have been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted, this book is important because it lets you know you're not alone. If you have been deployed in the Army and felt the after effects of deployment, you will know you're not alone. If you have felt a struggle with mental illness, you will know you're not alone. And if you haven't experienced any of those things, this book gives you a window into what it's like to live through them. These are issues that are too important to be ignored. Dostie doesn't sugar-coat anything, because these aren't issues that should be glossed over. The book might be uncomfortable to read at points. That's fine, because life is uncomfortable sometimes too. This isn't a trashy romance with a predictable happy ending, so if that's what you want look elsewhere. This is a book of catharsis after trauma. Dostie is an amazing writer that takes you on the journey through the tough times right along with her. For better or worse, you will feel every inch of it as you read this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kate Arismendez

    Being a woman stepping into a man’s world is one thing. Being victimized, ignored, lied to by their own leaders is another. In the Army, the chain of command is supposed to mold the young soldiers, teach them to be obedient, teach them to give and receive respect, and teach them to care for one another. They are the surrogate mother and father to the young soldiers after they enlist. Ryan Dostie’s chain of command failed her when she needed them most. When Ryan Dostie was raped by a fellow soldi Being a woman stepping into a man’s world is one thing. Being victimized, ignored, lied to by their own leaders is another. In the Army, the chain of command is supposed to mold the young soldiers, teach them to be obedient, teach them to give and receive respect, and teach them to care for one another. They are the surrogate mother and father to the young soldiers after they enlist. Ryan Dostie’s chain of command failed her when she needed them most. When Ryan Dostie was raped by a fellow soldier and her command did not take her seriously. She didn’t receive support. She was not believed. She was ignored, lied to and told to forget about it. Thank you, Ryan Dostie, for telling your story. You are an inspiration to every woman.

  17. 5 out of 5

    C. S.

    I can count on the fingers of one hand the nonfiction that has made me cry, and Formation is one of them. Here's the thing. This book is hard to read. It is rough. Not because it's bad, but because it is stunningly, blindingly good. Powerful. So deeply personal it feels intrusive to read it at times. But it tells so many important messages about so many things - rape culture, mental health, fat shaming and fat phobia, the damage that religious purety culture can cause... the general complexity o I can count on the fingers of one hand the nonfiction that has made me cry, and Formation is one of them. Here's the thing. This book is hard to read. It is rough. Not because it's bad, but because it is stunningly, blindingly good. Powerful. So deeply personal it feels intrusive to read it at times. But it tells so many important messages about so many things - rape culture, mental health, fat shaming and fat phobia, the damage that religious purety culture can cause... the general complexity of being a woman or a woman-like human being in this world. Formation touched some of the same nerves as Educated, and I think both titles will take their place in a powerful subgenre of memoir.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    This story is so much more than the assault she experienced, even though it’s clearly a vein through everything. It’s about women in the military. Combat. Women in combat. And all that comes with it including PTSD. I’m thankful our book club had this in our list. I wouldn’t have read it otherwise and would have missed out on a lot I never took the time to learn about.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Rogozinski

    I really couldn't put this book down. It contains so many emotions and a clear-eyed honesty that is surprisingly relatable despite the uniqueness of Ryan's experience, and makes you feel like you know the author. I appreciated that it didn't ring of bitterness or anger for wrongs suffered, but had the maturity of perspective. I expected it to be a feminist rant, but instead it probed good questions. I really couldn't put this book down. It contains so many emotions and a clear-eyed honesty that is surprisingly relatable despite the uniqueness of Ryan's experience, and makes you feel like you know the author. I appreciated that it didn't ring of bitterness or anger for wrongs suffered, but had the maturity of perspective. I expected it to be a feminist rant, but instead it probed good questions.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amy Rene

    Facing my truth I spent 10 years on active duty before the Army broke me physically and mentally. After getting out 3 months ago, I’ve been processing so many feeling about my own assaults on active duty while carrying the stories of hundreds of military sexual assault survivors I worked with over the years. Everyone in the military should read this book. Everyone who loves someone with PTSD should read this book. Thank you, Ryan, for opening eyes.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Raw and devastating. Unlike any book I've ever read. I just can't stop thinking about it Raw and devastating. Unlike any book I've ever read. I just can't stop thinking about it

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Wagner

    This is a phenomenal memoir of a woman’s experience in the army. It is smart and complicated and well written. From both a literary and personal perspective it’s utterly compelling.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Pavlik

    This book starts off with an event that might make one not want to read it. If you can make it past that event you get a feeling of the sheltered life and how it impacts one's life in the military. This book starts off with an event that might make one not want to read it. If you can make it past that event you get a feeling of the sheltered life and how it impacts one's life in the military.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    A memoir in three acts: the crisis, in which the author endures a terrible sexual assault and is neglected by her command to a degree that, I think, warrants throwing the entire UCMJ book at the whole lot of them; the war, a chaotic interlude in which Dostie shelves her trauma for more than a year to survive in Iraq immediately following 9/11; and the aftermath, in which Dostie must finally confront herself as she navigates the highs and lows of PTSD, both from combat and from rape. Dostie's sto A memoir in three acts: the crisis, in which the author endures a terrible sexual assault and is neglected by her command to a degree that, I think, warrants throwing the entire UCMJ book at the whole lot of them; the war, a chaotic interlude in which Dostie shelves her trauma for more than a year to survive in Iraq immediately following 9/11; and the aftermath, in which Dostie must finally confront herself as she navigates the highs and lows of PTSD, both from combat and from rape. Dostie's story is an incredibly important one - for the civilians who don't know what experiencing (sexual assault in) the military is like, and for veterans who have been there, or know someone else who has been there, and know exactly what it's like. I'm glad she wrote it, and I'm glad I read it. But this book wasn't at all easy to read, and not for the reasons that I was expecting (descriptions of rape, PTSD, etc). The author is so, so insecure: about her military service, her place in the Army and as a combat veteran, her (bizarrely prohibitive) concepts of masculinity and femininity, her PTSD symptoms, her fulfillment of stereotypes of females in the military, her overeager portrayal of her wartime experience (typical of combat support and linguists especially), her own measure of her intelligence and worth, I mean everything. Her insecurity bleeds over every page of the story in a way that generates second-hand embarrassment where sympathy should have arisen instead. Given her background, an absence of confidence is expected and warranted, but in this case it leads to some truly uncomfortable reading. "Back then," she writes about her time in Iraq, "I was still writhing down in the dirt, begging for a scrap of attention, for someone to validate me." But there is no evidence of change, nothing of maturation or growth, just escalations and deescalations of PTSD-related events, and then the story ends shockingly abruptly: I had a baby and now my suicidal ideations are gone. Or are they? Actually, I'll probably never be better. Thanks for reading! This might be real and true, but what ought the reader do with it? This is not to invalidate Dostie's service or any of her experiences. Again, this is an incredibly brave story, well-written if not well-told. The first part of this book is an excellent, heart-breaking retelling of how badly a victim of rape can be treated in the hands of the Army, especially during the time the Army was so unbelievably unprepared to receive and navigate the female experience. But Dostie's need to put her life together neatly in chapters and arcs ultimately only reveals the psychological turmoil she still, unfortunately, seems to suffer. Given her trauma, this isn't a surprise. This story doesn't need a happy ending, but it did need a true one, one that will resonate with the reader, and I don't think that's what we were given - just the overwhelming feeling of, now what?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Donna Bijas

    3.5 stars. Honestly have mixed feelings about this book. The writing is excellent, very detailed and precise. It’s also really honest and soul-searching. She is an amazing woman, but a rape while in the armed forces, not believed, coupled with PTSD after Iraq and depression made this mind-blowing and I found myself unsympathetic at times which bothered me, particularly after reading the acknowledgement section. It’s certainly worth reading, but it’s not easy and sometimes not enjoyable. I hope s 3.5 stars. Honestly have mixed feelings about this book. The writing is excellent, very detailed and precise. It’s also really honest and soul-searching. She is an amazing woman, but a rape while in the armed forces, not believed, coupled with PTSD after Iraq and depression made this mind-blowing and I found myself unsympathetic at times which bothered me, particularly after reading the acknowledgement section. It’s certainly worth reading, but it’s not easy and sometimes not enjoyable. I hope she’s happy now though.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bree

    Notes: I hated this book author confesses several times to various demons she lives with - one in her belly, one on her shoulder, one between her ribs and one in her head she used to be a Christian but is now enlightened to 'the truth' and worships Ishtar she is mentally ill and was on this path even before the sexual assault she uses the f-word and other vulgarities on almost every page to prove how masculine she is along with vile descriptions of her violent imaginations her book should convince an Notes: I hated this book author confesses several times to various demons she lives with - one in her belly, one on her shoulder, one between her ribs and one in her head she used to be a Christian but is now enlightened to 'the truth' and worships Ishtar she is mentally ill and was on this path even before the sexual assault she uses the f-word and other vulgarities on almost every page to prove how masculine she is along with vile descriptions of her violent imaginations her book should convince any one that women shouldn't be in the military which is a disgusting soul crushing machine even for men this book is revolting from start to finish

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    What remarkable courage in the face of turbulence throughout life!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    This was an incredible 5+ star read - a book I would recommend to every American. Dostie presents an absolutely infuriating and eye-opening story about her years as a woman in the US Army. She has a fascinating life in general - she grew up in a fundamentalist Christian society (basically a cult) in Massachusetts; she taught herself Japanese as a teenager; joined the military to become a linguist immediately after graduating high school; and learned Persian-Farsi at the military’s Defense Langua This was an incredible 5+ star read - a book I would recommend to every American. Dostie presents an absolutely infuriating and eye-opening story about her years as a woman in the US Army. She has a fascinating life in general - she grew up in a fundamentalist Christian society (basically a cult) in Massachusetts; she taught herself Japanese as a teenager; joined the military to become a linguist immediately after graduating high school; and learned Persian-Farsi at the military’s Defense Language Institute. She joined the army at a time of peace with no war on the horizon, and 9/11 struck while she was studying at DLI. Instead of being sent to the basic training camp where most linguists and army “paper pushers” are sent (Ft. Jackson or “Relaxin’ Jackson” as they call it), she was sent to Ft. Polk, a notoriously tough camp. While at Ft. Polk, she was raped by a fellow soldier. It is truly disgusting, maddening, and embarrassing to read about her experience afterwards. She did everything "by the book" - reported it almost immediately after, submitted herself to humiliating examinations, photos, test, and interrogations. But the army didn’t think she “acted like a rape victim.” She was gaslit and doubted and laughed at by every one of her superiors, asked if she “really wanted to ruin [her rapist’s] life” by going through with the accusation, given dirty and questioning looks by her fellow soldiers, labeled as “that girl who cried rape,” and subjected to her trauma becoming a joke in company-wide debriefs. Her accusation was found not to be credible and she had to serve in the same company as her rapist, who walked away scot-free. FORMATION is more than just the story of her rape, although that is a very important part of the book. It is also a story of being one of few woman in the military, particularly in the early 2000s when Iraq and Afghanistan were first invaded. It’s about how Dostie had to be cool with casual sexism, rape jokes, and homophobia. It’s also about what it’s like to be at war, the boredom, the heat, the injuries, the death. Dostie was military intelligence personnel, so she wasn’t on the front lines, but war is war. It’s about her PTSD, unexpected and intense. Dostie’s writing is beautiful, raw, and real. She’s clearly an excellent writer and I hope she’ll write more in the future. She makes you feel as though you are right there with her. I loved listening to the audiobook, which is narrated by Dostie, and you get to hear her no-nonsense thick Boston accent (she says her own last name “Dawstie”) tell you her experiences straight from the source. I know there are more women in the military now, and I can only hope that survivors of sexual assault within the army are believed and justice is given.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    I was fortunate to win an ARC of FORMATION- A WOMAN'S MEMOIR OF STEPPING OUT OF LINE, otherwise I might have missed out because there are few copies in my library systems, and I don't recall a big publicity push in the reviews that I read. I hope that changes because RYAN LEIGH DOSTIE'S story deserves to be told and she should be appreciated and recognized for what she gave up in order to serve this country as an Army soldier in the first Iraq invasion. I've never read anything like this. It is I was fortunate to win an ARC of FORMATION- A WOMAN'S MEMOIR OF STEPPING OUT OF LINE, otherwise I might have missed out because there are few copies in my library systems, and I don't recall a big publicity push in the reviews that I read. I hope that changes because RYAN LEIGH DOSTIE'S story deserves to be told and she should be appreciated and recognized for what she gave up in order to serve this country as an Army soldier in the first Iraq invasion. I've never read anything like this. It is unique. I now think that military women have less chance of equality and fair treatment than civilian women, because their commanding officers tend to think they don't deserve better, and they are forced to endure rather than besmirch the military by looking for justice for themselves. I haven't read about women in combat in modern wars, other than that there are now women in combat zones. But what exactly do they experience, and how do they live in those circumstances? Dostie initially enlisted because a recruiter convinced her that her language skills would make her valuable as a Linguist in Military Intelligence, and she would get the opportunity to get a college degree. What she wasn't promised was respect, fair treatment, protection from rape and PTSD. Basic training means sharing the same mental and physical hardships as the men. She accepted that. But what gives some military men the audacity to reach into their sadistic nature and inflict unnecessary hardships on women soldiers? Her training was interrupted by 9/11 and off she went to Iraq. Her time there is clearly portrayed so that the reader sees more than news reports chose to convey. It is hard to picture living in the extreme desert heat, wearing fifty pounds of combat gear, without fresh water, electricity, or personal comforts and facilities. Still, she speaks fondly of the locals and personal contacts, such as when mothers brought their young daughters to see for themselves a real-life woman soldier. After serving her tour of duty, one would think it would mean a return to home, career, and a good life. But like so many combat veterans, there is residual damage in the mind if not the body. Dostie does not sugar coat her story but lays open her worst mistakes. At times it is raw and harsh. It is a remarkable reading experience, and I highly recommend the book. Women will understand and appreciate, but I hope men will read it and learn.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Kennedy

    Ryan Leigh Dostie was an adventurous young woman who joined the Army as a linguist after spending a year abroad as a student in Japan. She describes herself as a risk-taker, and at every opportunity she tries to prove her standing in the male-dominated world in which she lands. She trains hard, drinks hard, talks tough and soldiers on. But Ryan is a also a confused young woman who finds it hard to stand up for herself when she lands in dicey situations. She grew up in a sheltered, female-dominate Ryan Leigh Dostie was an adventurous young woman who joined the Army as a linguist after spending a year abroad as a student in Japan. She describes herself as a risk-taker, and at every opportunity she tries to prove her standing in the male-dominated world in which she lands. She trains hard, drinks hard, talks tough and soldiers on. But Ryan is a also a confused young woman who finds it hard to stand up for herself when she lands in dicey situations. She grew up in a sheltered, female-dominated cult, woefully unarmed to protect herself from predators in the service. The book Ryan has written details the night of her rape and its aftermath. The assault has blighted her entire life, not only because of what it was, but also because of the military's reaction to it (it didn't happen) and the treatment she receives at the hand of fellow soldiers. On top of that, she ends up in a war zone, something she never thought she'd signed up for. Not surprisingly, today she suffers from PTSD and struggles to face each day. Throughout the book, I was frustrated with the way Ryan seemingly brings on her own troubles -- drinking to excess, dressing provocatively, sleeping around -- all the things that people point out to blame the victim. But, on the other hand, I understand her actions. I also grew up in a strict, fundamental sect, and it leaves you with no inner resources on which to draw. You have no experience of normal friendly relationships with men, so every interaction is fraught with tension and unease. You don't know how to say no, because you've been taught to accommodate. Alcohol has been forbidden, so you let loose at the first opportunity. Ryan was a risk-taker because she was trying to rewrite her story. Ryan's story is hard to read as she spirals out of control. As a reader, you need to refrain from judging her. What you should pay attention to is Ryan's driving motivation -- she is mortally afraid of being average. She's terrified of living a life with no challenges. It's a motivation I don't fully understand, because I don't share it. But it explains a lot of the author's actions and allows you as a reader to sympathize with her even as she self-destructs. I wish her well as she continues to put her life back together.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...