Formation by Ryan Leigh Dostie


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 ...

Details Formation

Release DateJun 4th, 2019
PublisherGrand Central Publishing
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Feminism, Biography, War

Reviews Formation

  • 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.
  • 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 autob...
  • 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 w...
  • 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,...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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 wit...
  • 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, ...
  • Kara Harte
    “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 tellin...
  • 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 t...
  • 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, b...
  • 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, yo...
  • 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 e...
  • Jennifer
    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.
  • 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.
  • Rachel
    Raw and devastating. Unlike any book I've ever read. I just can't stop thinking about it
  • Keana Aguila Labra
    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 ...
  • 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.
  • 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 lear...
  • 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 in...
  • Matt Fitz
    I've spent most of my legal career in the military's criminal justice realm. Since around 2003, the military has been addressing it's problem with sexual assault in the ranks (slowly...and with mixed reviews and even more mixed results). Books like this that make us take a hard look are important to improving the process. Ms. Dotsie writes an incredible and unembellished account of a sexual assault that is not unlike many similar sexual assaults ...
  • Bonnie_blu
    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 ...
  • Mindy
    I wanted to be able to give this memoir a higher rating. This woman went through SO much mental, physical and emotional trauma and I know she can't be the only one to have the experiences she had while in the military- but I just could not get into this book the way I wanted to.Perhaps it may be because I don't know the same kind of trauma in the way she does or because I live a very different life than a militant one- I'm just not sure. However,...
  • EzekielHall
    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 mat...
  • Michelle Willms
    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 Amer...
  • Shay
    Memoirs have never been at the top of my list as must reads but I was walking the aisles at my local bookstore and I happened to read the jacket of this particular one and it had me. I bought it and started reading it in my car before I even got home.It's follows, Ryan Dostie, as she grows up in a very sheltered religious environment and when she's given the "opportunity" to become a linguist in the army, she enlists, thinking this is her chance ...
  • Heidi
    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...
  • Chelsea Dodds
    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 ...