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

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  102 ratings  ·  30 reviews
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
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Grand Central Publishing
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4.50  · 
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 ·  102 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Cassandra Paine
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, women
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.
Patricia O'Neill
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE. Book clubs especially
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.

May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: forever-shelf
(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
Anne S
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-read
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
Dave Wolfe
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Kate Arismendez
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Raw and devastating. Unlike any book I've ever read. I just can't stop thinking about it
Kara Harte
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“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
Amanda Rogozinski
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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.
Keana Aguila Labra
Jun 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Formation by Ryan Leigh Dostie is a haunting, raw account of Dostie's rape during her time in the military. Dostie does not mince words nor does she hesitate transitioning into the topic; she dives headfirst into her encounter with her rapist. The events tumble at breakneck speed afterward; some of which were difficult or even impossible to read; I found myself seething with frustration or rage at the apathy of others' actions.

Dostie introduces cruel and kind characters: from Andres allowing he
Clare McCarthy
Think of the best opening line of any novel you've ever read. Go ahead; I'll wait. What is it? Yeah, that's good, but this is better: "A few hours before I am raped, two officers in a bar try to corner me and steal my panties." Right? And this is a memoir, not a novel.

Formation is Ryan Dostie's memoir of her time in the Army, which included serving in Iraq, studying to be a linguist, and navigating an institution expressly set up NOT to include women. And it's a story about rape and its conseque
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received this book for free, but be assured that my review below an honest one.

The old saying "the more things change, the more they stay the same" is absolutely applicable to women in the military. Whether it's the 1970s or 2019, women must be ever vigilant as they serve in the armed forces. I, too, was assaulted when I served, but luckily I managed to stop it before full rape. Dostie's account of her life, the trauma she experiences, and the complete disinterest in her welfare by her male co
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ryan Dostie's story is one many women in the military have experienced, and her excellent writing skills and courage to face and name her traumas will, I hope, make more people confront such issues as military sexual trauma, toxic masculinity, imperialism, the utter inhumanity of war, and the failure of the US government to care for its "heroes".

Other things her memoir mentions, aside from its main themes, include her unique childhood (from a matriarchal religious cult to studying abroad in a Ja
Michelle Willms
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
Ryan was a risk-taker. She enjoyed adventure and wanted to travel. When the army talked to her about enlisting, she decided it sounded like fun. She'd never really had the easy camaraderie other people seemed to experience throughout school, so she looked forward to truly belonging. The reality was not exactly what she'd imagined. She expected the Army to keep its promise to her - she was going in the Army to study Japanese. She didn't think America would be going to war. Then came 9/11. Of cour ...more
Chelsea Dodds
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Most readers will not have experienced the same things that Ryan Leigh Dostie has experienced and writes about in her memoir--being a woman in the military, a survivor of sexual assault, and living with PTSD. However, there is a lot in Formation that will resonate with readers, even those who typically do not read military literature. Dostie's beautiful prose keeps you right alongside her throughout the entire journey, and the chapters that take place in Iraq show a more historically-rich view o ...more
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a phenomenal book from start to finish. I received a pre-release copy (either from Goodreads or another site--I do not recall.) As often happens with free books, although I hate to admit it, is they get lost on a shelf in my library, unread. I figured the same would occur with this rather lengthy memoir, but after cracking open the first page, I could Not put it down, reading it at every spare moment.
"Formation" is a memoir of a woman's army experience. Ryan Dostie's (author) writing i
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a real and powerful account of violence, gender roles, and religion. It's about choices, other's and our own, and the consequences thereof.

Every adjective I try to use seems cliqued and inadequate in comparison to the strength on every page. My life absolutely paused until the last sentence. I read while cooking, I followed through war while doing laundry one-handed, I ignored emails and texts and sleep (yes, even social media) until the very end.

Society would have us believe that after
Misty Palaia
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Raw, heart wrenching and inspiring. The opening lines are an all too honest mirror of the world woman have inherited. Reading about Ryan’s experiences and the many ways she justified others grotesque behavior as a short coming of her own was gripping and real. The fact that even as she is struggling to move forward with her civilian life she is courageous enough to tell this story is nothing short of hopeful and brave. The writing is beautiful and intelligent. I found the pages turned quickly, e ...more
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've always been back-of-the-mind curious to find out what the military is really like on the inside, and this memoir happened to give me a peek behind the scenes—plus more. I'd never heard of this book or author, simply saw it on the shelf at the library. So I was pleasantly surprised when I cracked it open and couldn't put it down. I got sucked into Ryan's story and finished the book in two days!

She writes so well about emotions and experiences that are hard to capture in words--much is explo
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
A very good read, about what one woman faced in the service and her resiliency
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
very good
Csimplot Simplot
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book!!!
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Wow! This is quite a heartbreaking and disturbing memoir. Ryan does a wonderful job of telling about her experience.
C. S.
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nice read. Author went thru so much. Difficult read for most of book. Thank you for your service.

Thanks to author,publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free,it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a memoir that was hard to read, but necessary. I would like to thank the author for her service. It takes a hard look at the military and service. It tells the story of a woman who has been through so much. It tells the story of a survivor and her strength.

I would like to thank the netgalley and the publisher for providing me a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion.
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Ryan Leigh Dostie is a novelist turned soldier turned novelist. As an Army Persian-Farsi/Dari Linguist in Military Intelligence, she was deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom I and II (2003-2004). She holds an MFA in fiction writing and a bachelor’s degree in History from Southern Connecticut State University. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with her husband, her wondrously wild dau ...more