Named by Esquire as one of the Best Nonfiction Books of the Year: Chanel Miller's Know My Name meets Cheryl Strayed's Wild and Anthony Swofford's Jarhead in this powerful literary memoir of a young soldier 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.
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.