cover image Formation: A Woman’s Memoir of Stepping Out of Line

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

Ryan Leigh Dostie. Grand Central, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-5387-3153-6

In the sparse landscape of war memoirs by female soldiers, Dostie’s resolute, literary account of her five years in the army sets a benchmark. Raised in a New England Christian community, Dostie enlisted in the army in 2000 right out of high school. Promises made by recruiters of an easy basic training were crushed when Dostie realized women “are shiny and new and very much disliked” in army combat training. She studied languages and was steered toward Persian, or Farsi, one of the “weird languages”—until 9/11 made her “linguistically relevant.” Six months after posting to a predominantly male tactical unit at Fort Polk, Louisiana, in 2002, she was raped by another solder. Dostie reported the assault, trusting “father figures” in her chain of command to deliver justice, but her case was found to be unsubstantiated and she was ostracized by her peers. Deployment to Baghdad in 2003 provided the distraction of violence; armed with an M16, she discovered “Iraq is the perfect place for rage.” After leaving active duty in 2005, she grappled with PTSD until marriage and motherhood anchored her enough to “live in the interims” of sanity and push forward. Dostie writes powerfully in this raw, explosive memoir. Agent: Eve Attermann, WME. (June)