A Woman's Memoir of Stepping Out of Line


By Ryan Leigh Dostie

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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.


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A few hours before I am raped, two officers in a bar try to corner me and steal my panties. Locke and I are hovering by a standing table when they approach, standing so close that I have to crane my head back to see their faces. Despite my heels, they’re taller than me.

“Want a drink?” asks the one closer to me. His dark hair is so neatly shorn that his skin looks blue. It gives him away. I point to his head.

“Enlisted or officer?”

He grins, all teeth, and leans forward, splashing me with the scent of whiskey sour mix. He’s uneasy on his feet, leaning to one side, a meaty hand resting on the table for balance. “Officers. You military?”

Locke’s jaw works impatiently and she ignores the men, instead looking around the bar for something better to do. She doesn’t suffer boredom well and she likes her men prettier than this. “Enlisted.”

“Aww,” pouts the other, trying to get Locke’s attention.

“You’re too pretty to be in the Army,” says the officer nearer to me, and I can’t help but smile. I never quite understand the phrase, whether it’s meant to be a compliment or insult, but I like being called pretty, even if the praise is buried in subtext. I don’t have Locke’s tall, toned body or her steely confidence. I still blush and preen under male approval. He likes the reaction and moves closer. He presses his shoulder against mine. “Let’s get a drink.”

The two men are older than us by at least a decade, and the age gap feels significant somehow. I shift my weight to the other foot to buy myself some space. “I don’t know. I feel like that’s fraternization.” I laugh to lighten the rejection.

“I won’t tell if you don’t.” He winks one watery eye. For as much experience as I’ve had keeping men at bay, I suddenly don’t know how to untangle myself from this situation. Locke looks bored but shrugs. She won’t turn down a free drink but I prefer to buy my own. Too many unspoken obligations tie a girl to a bought drink.

“I know.” I perk up. “How about a bet? If I can take a shot better than you can, then you pay for our drinks.” Locke grins. She knows this party trick and I’m damn good at it.

The officer snorts. “You think you can handle your liquor better than me?”

“For one shot I can.”

“And if I win?” he asks. He’s grinning. He thinks he’s already won.

“You leave us alone,” Locke shoots and I’m both uncomfortable and relieved by her brusqueness. I long for that kind of grit.

The officer shakes his head. “That’s not a reward. How about I get your panties.”

“My what?”

“Your underwear. If I win, you have to give me your panties.”

Locke looks aghast and I wear a similar expression. “Why would you want my underwear?”

Locke lays a hand on my shoulder and shakes her head. Her whiskey shots are kicking in. “Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answer to. Fine. Deal. Whatever. Get us some shots.” Please don’t gamble with my underwear, I want to say, but I know they can’t be serious.

I’m certainly not serious. It wasn’t a real bet, just something said in jest.

The officer jabs his friend with his elbow. “Go get us some whiskey.”

“Don’t be a bitch,” I counter, gathering my confidence because, though I only started drinking a few months ago when I turned twenty-one, good Christian girl turned a little bad by legality, this I know how to do. “Everclear,” I add, naming my 190-proof corn spirit of choice. If you want a shot to knock someone back on their heels, Everclear is the only way to do it.

The officer grimaces, which is the exact reaction I was hoping for, but he doesn’t back down. When the Everclear arrives, it glistens in a tall, plastic cup. It’s a double shot.

“You first.” Locke’s hand hovers by her own drink—whiskey already purchased by one of the officers.

The officer stares tentatively at the drink, the cup dwarfed in his palm. I hope he backs down. He doesn’t. He throws the drink back, swallows in one gulp, careful to keep his face composed. He blinks rapidly but doesn’t cough or grimace. He carefully places the cup on the table before clearing his throat. “Your turn.” The other officer slaps him on the back and congratulates his fortitude.

I scowl in annoyance. I usually win this game before I even take the shot. I hold the glass out, careful not to get a whiff of its potent stench, then breathe in and hold it. I down the drink, feeling it burn its way down my throat and pound its way into my stomach, and breathe out slowly, careful to keep my nose closed off so I can’t taste the alcohol. I grin as the last of my breath escapes between tightly clamped teeth. Easy peasy.

The two officers narrow their eyes, staring, waiting for me to shiver, cough, and gag. I tip the glass victoriously before returning it to the table.

“We win,” Locke says, then downs her shot, throws the cup onto the table, and grabs my arm. “Bye bye.” She tugs me away from the table.

“I don’t think so.” The smaller officer’s hand shoots out and captures my wrist. “We win. He did better.”

“Did not,” I protest, but the corn ethanol is working its way through my system. My feet are suddenly large and cumbersome. I grip Locke’s elbow tighter.

“Yeah, I was way better.” The officer makes a come-hither gesture with his hand. “Give up the panties.”

“Nope.” Locke pulls me hard enough that my wrist slides out of his grasp.

“Hey! A bet’s a bet!” he yells after us as we make our retreat through the crowd.

“Freaks,” Locke says, pushing me up against the bar. The air is suddenly hot. I tug at my dress’s collar.

“Is it hot in here?”

“Here.” She pushes a vodka shot into my hand.

“Nooo,” I mutter to myself, eyeing my archnemesis. Everclear I could do, but vodka and I aren’t very good friends. “I’m not supposed to be drinking,” I suddenly remember, thinking of the doctor a few weeks back who handed me a nine-month supply of isoniazid for a positive tuberculosis PPD test, stressing, “You can’t drink at all while taking this,” and then pressing another bottle of vitamin B12 into the other hand to counter the “acute liver failure side effects” of the first drug. But possible liver disease seems a minor complication to a twenty-one-year-old and I shrug, taking the shot. Really, it’s only a few drinks this one time. What’s the worst that can happen?

*  *  *

There is dancing and more shots. I know I can handle a dozen without a problem, but I stop counting somewhere around drink ten. Locke’s body weaves intricate symbols on the dance floor, her cheeks vermilion red. I sway to the music, fascinated by the drops of light that waver and splash across my skin. Maybe it’s the medication, but the alcohol hits me harder than usual, faster, more violently, and I try to keep to my normal drinking pace but I’ve outrun my sobriety. I skirt to the outside of the dance floor and lean into a corner. I rest my head back, legs braced apart, using the hard angles of the corner walls to hold me up.

“Hey you,” says a familiar voice, and I crack open one eye. The dim lights burn.

“Hi?” My voice crackles. The officer leans against the wall beside me. “I won our bet from earlier, you know,” he says.

“Meh.” I don’t have the will to argue and I close my eyes. Sight makes me wobbly.

“I believe these are mine,” he says and suddenly there is a warm hand on the inside of my thighs.

I gasp and slam my knees together, pinning his hand in place. “What are you doing?” But the protest comes out breathy and weak.

He grins, his face so close to mine. He’s tall and I’m not standing upright, making his upper body loom over me. “It’s all in good fun,” he tries to assure me, wiggling his hand upward.

I laugh because I’m nervous and drunk. “Stop.” I catch his wrist and try to push it down. “Come on, you lost the bet.” The other officer is there to my left and my spine is pressed into the corner, locking me in place. His fingers slide up my skirt, up against the outside of my hip, and loop around the material of my underwear. He tugs and the fabric slides down. “Seriously, stop,” I laugh, swallowing hard, knees shaking, and I use my other hand to grip my underwear, trying to hold them up. But it’s four hands against two and they’re winning. I feel tiny, as if I’ve shrunk and they’re giants, black shadows bent over me, blocking out the rest of the club.

“Hey!” Locke breaks through between them, a vengeful spirit, all wild dark hair and crimson cheeks. “Fuck off!” she snarls, so tall, so muscular, jabbing one of the officers in the ribs and pulling me out from beneath them. I stumble after her, quickly trying to straighten my underwear with one hand.

“Jesus Christ, Dostie, learn to punch someone in the face,” Locke throws over her shoulder at me. I stare up at the strong line of her shoulders, the muscles that contort and roll beneath her black tank top, the exposed white skin that defies the December night cold, and feel shamed.

Outside, I embrace the sharpness of the cold against my skin. I shiver, as if I can physically shake off the feeling of rough palms searching between my legs. Andres is there, materializing as if summoned, and I lean against him, dropping my head onto his shoulder. He and Diaz had been at another part of the bar, placing as much space between them and the dance floor as physically possible. I cuddle against Andres’s safety and warmth. I have a sometimes-lover at another post, so my relationship with Andres has been platonic, though not strictly so, with tentative flirtations of possibly more. I trust his inherent instinct to protect me, as if I’m a wobbly fawn in constant need of tending. “I need to go home,” I say, to him, to Locke, probably to myself.

“No, come on. It’s too early.” Locke pouts. She complains. She begs for reconsideration but I’ve had too much and I sprawl out in the backseat of Diaz’s car, glad to have a sober friend, our faithful designated driver. I keep one hand on the hem of my skirt, as if retroactively keeping it in place.

Diaz drops us off at the barracks parking lot. Locke has convinced him to take her back into town and they encourage Andres to join them. The night is too early and I’ve ruined it too quickly. But Andres waves them off and I feel bad, but mostly thankful. I eye the long path to the barracks building warily. I’m not sure I can navigate it alone. I concentrate on placing one foot in front of the other, like it’s some complex physics formula that needs all my attention. Mere steps from the main door, my foot catches on nothing and I plop down onto the pavement. Andres grabs my elbow but I shake my head. “Nope. Just leave me here.” Drunk me doesn’t want to dare the stairs.

There’s a short laugh. “Looks like someone had a good time,” says a guy from our Military Intelligence unit. He sits on the cement benches outside the main door. He has a thick, white v-shaped scar that covers the back of his head. It’s his only distinguishing mark. Otherwise he’s nondescript: short, stout, and with lazily buzzed brown hair. I don’t know much about him, since he’s in a different platoon. I think he’s an intelligence analyst, and I’m a Persian-Farsi/Japanese linguist; we barely overlap.

“Yeah, she’s going to bed,” Andres says above me as he tries to pull me up.

“To bed!” I cheer loudly, because that’s exactly where I want to be. My sheets are calling me.

The guy says something else; there is an exchange that is literally over my head, and when Andres guides me toward the stairwell, the analyst grabs my other elbow, balancing me out. I smile in gratitude, feeling protected between fellow unit members, my sentinels.

At my room door, I sway before the electronic combination lock. Our barracks don’t have keys. Instead each door is fitted with a box that has four simple punch buttons, each lock needing a specific series of numbers stamped in a particular order. I punch in my number and try the handle. It rattles in hand. “Shit,” I hiss and punch the number again. The handle refuses to move. “Shit fuck.” I jab the combination, one hand braced against the doorframe. Third time is a charm and the door swings open. I sprint on foal legs to my bed, curling up around the sheets, nuzzling my pillow.

The bed shifts and someone sits by my feet. I have to sit up for someone to sit on the other side of me. There is masculine laughter, a conversation that I’m not quite part of but I smile and nod. A wine bottle passes in front of me, from one man to the other, and I don’t know where it came from. It’s pink wine. It’s definitely not Andres’s. The bottle is pressed into my hand and I wrap my fingers around the neck. I take a gulp because it’s there, because I feel the intense need to keep up, to prove that I can. I start to pull the bottle away from my lips and the analyst grabs the bottom of the bottle, tipping it up so that I take another mouthful. “Drink,” he says, and I chug another two gulps. It’s too much. I shove the bottle into Andres’s hands and crumble to the side, wrapping my arms around my pillow. I drift between awake and asleep, startling now and again at a particularly loud punch in the conversation.

“She’s definitely had enough,” Andres concludes and I hum in response. Andres herds out the analyst and I hear the shuffle of their feet as they leave, the comforting click of the door locking behind them. I slip off to sleep in the cool darkness, still fully dressed, still wearing the underwear that has made it this far, but will make it no farther.

How It Happened

I wake with my cheek pressed into my bare mattress. I don’t know why it’s bare. I had a sheet on it when I fell asleep. Something happened and I missed it. There is a black, gaping hole in my memory and I’m trying to piece myself around it, remembering the door closing shut, that warm, safe click of the lock, but now I’m on my stomach, face smashed into the faded blue-and-white-striped mattress. I turn my head, rearing back slightly, and there is a man behind me, kneeling, weight back on his heels, hands on my waist, gripping tight to the flesh, ramming himself into me, again and again, and I don’t know how I got here. I’m simply confused at first, for a second trying to follow the bread crumbs of my memory but stumbling into the void, the missing parts, and I say, “I don’t know what’s going on,” because I don’t and it seems the most reasonable thing to say. “I don’t understand what’s happening.”

He ignores me, pulling at my hips to hitch them up higher, to give him better access. “I don’t know who you are,” I say, and it’s the start of my protest, my way of saying I’m not okay with this, because I don’t know him, and that’s important to me. I don’t have sex with men I don’t know. I don’t have sex with anyone at all, save for the on-and-off-again lover stationed some hundred miles away. This isn’t supposed to be happening. I plant my knees, trying to push up, to low-crawl away, but he bears down, pressing his weight onto my back, pinning me in place. “I don’t know who you are,” I say again, louder this time.

“Yes, you do,” he grunts between thrusts. “I’m Kevin. Kevin Hale. You know me.”

I know the name, vaguely, like a dim recollection, some analyst in another platoon but it’s reaching, stretching for a memory. “I don’t know you.” My upper arms hurt, but I don’t know why; the back of my skull hurts, and I don’t know why. There’s a short flash of a memory, of my head bouncing off the white brick wall, of hands digging into my arms, but it’s too fast, too inexact, and instead I try to squirm, shift my hips away. “What the hell are you doing?” I ask, or at least I mean to ask in English, though it probably comes out in Japanese, because I’m drunk still and quick, easily accessible emotions always translate better in Japanese when I’m drunk. Senseless words tumble out because nothing makes sense anyway. もうやめて, I demand, said angrily, said loudly, said more than once, and he’s getting angry now. His body stretches over mine, sweaty, naked flesh rubbing against my back, and I cringe, wanting to swipe away the sweat, the touch of his skin, but I can’t get up, can’t get my limbs to coordinate, to cooperate. “¡Cállate!” he hisses into my ear, lips pressed against the lobe, hot breath ruffling my hair. “¡Cállate! ¡Cállate! See, I can speak another language, too.”

Then there is another trip into the black hole, moments sliced out of my brain, gone, and the next thing I see he’s pulling out of me, climbing off the bed, not looking at me, seemingly disinterested. I scramble to the far side of the bed, clutching a pillow to my chest, fingers digging into the fabric, using it as a shield against my nakedness. There is a silence as he dresses and I watch warily from my corner. “It’s okay,” I say, for some reason trying to normalize the moment. “It’s not like I don’t know what rape is.”

He looks up from fixing his belt, flashing a half grin. “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

My mouth is wired shut. I want him gone—out of my room, no longer in my space. I pull the pillow tight against me, as if I can drag it into my body and erase the places he has been inside me. He’s dressing too slowly, moving too leisurely. I just want him gone.

“Call me if you want to do this again sometime,” he casually adds as he grabs his jacket.

I stare back dumbly. I don’t know who this woman is. I should scream, rage, throw the pillow at him, grab the books off my desk and hurl them one by one at his head, grab the chair by its back and swing it into his chest. But instead I cower, heart pounding painfully against my rib cage as he leaves, hearing the click of the door lock in a way that will never be warm and comforting again.

I wait. One minute. Two minutes. Until I can’t wait any longer and I scramble off the bed, grabbing wildly at the clothes on the floor, yanking on an oversize black T-shirt, hands shaking. I crack open the door, staring into the empty hallway. The light against the wall flickers and I hesitate, ensnared in the doorway, staring intently at the stairs he had to have used to leave the floor. I stare hard, waiting to hear boots on the steps, a shadow across the wall, so hard that I forget to breathe and I finally suck in air, a loud, wet sound in the emptiness. When I’m certain he’s left, that he’s not coming back, I dash across the hall. I slap my palms against Andres’s door, my throat too tight to scream and my knees too weak to hold my weight.

The door next to mine cracks open and I twist quickly, flattening against the door, hands clutching at the doorknob that won’t turn. Sergeant Rivera stands in his doorway, dressed in sweatpants and a PT shirt. He regards me softly, saying nothing, his forehead pinned together in sympathy, his eyes telling me he knows. He must know, yet he stands there, doing nothing. How can he know, yet do nothing? I’d spit if I could find the rage in me to do it, but it’s all fled, leaving me trembling on bare legs, knees pressed firmly together.

Andres’s door opens and I spill into the dark room, arms wrapped around my chest. I can’t form any words; I huddle, head bent down. I rush to his bed, grabbing blankets like shields, rolling them round and round me until I’m a bump under thick linen, knees, thighs, body clenched shut.

“What happened? What’s wrong?” Andres stands by his bed, asking again and again, but I can’t say it.

“Kevin Hale just left her room,” Rivera says, standing in the door. “I was afraid this was going to happen.” He shakes his head.

His girlfriend peeks out from behind him, watching me with sad, dark eyes. A small, elfin girl, she is a military police officer and she’s the one who suggests, “Do you want me to call the MPs?”

“Wait, he went back there after I left?” Andres asks, fuming. “After I kicked him out?” There is the rage: His teeth are clenched tight; his chest rises and falls rapidly. I hope it’s contagious. I want it to be contagious, but I can’t feel it. I just tremble and snivel. “That fucker,” he snarls, clenching his fists. “I’ll fucking kill him.”

I only groan, wishing I could disappear, digging down further in the blankets. I don’t want them to look at me. I already hate the lilt in their voices—pity intermingled with outrage. I want to ask why Rivera did nothing to stop it, if he knew. I want to ask why he waited until I burst out of the room.

It’s Rivera’s girlfriend who actually calls the police. I don’t know if I said yes, if I said I want to report it. I can’t stop shaking; I can’t lift my head. It doesn’t seem real and I want to peel off my skin, turn it inside out and scrape apart my insides, anywhere he touched, ball it up and throw it in the trash. Maybe burn it for good measure.

If I had been a bit more rational, maybe I would’ve rested a hand on hers, said, “No, don’t call.” Maybe I would’ve just cried it out, scrubbed it away. Maybe it would’ve been okay and I would’ve gotten over it and moved on. But that’s not the way it happened, and which is worse? To be raped—one singular act done and then over with, or to be raped and turn to your command, to your lines of authority, your father figures, your abstract constructs of justice and integrity, to innocently curl up against them, whispering, “Save me; believe me,” and have them stare back at you, stone-faced? To have them hold you at arm’s length and announce, in a joint, resounding voice, “No”?

*  *  *

I don’t act like a rape victim, they say. I’m not sure how a rape victim is supposed to act, but apparently I’m not doing it right. They write that in the report—that I don’t act like a rape victim. The MP demands we conduct the interview in my barracks room. I hesitate at the door, loath to cross the tainted threshold. I pad into the room with bare feet and borrowed sweats. The room is a mess. I see it from an outsider’s eyes—the clothes strewn across the floor, the bottles of makeup scattered on the desk, the shoes that spill out from the open lock closet. It looks disheveled and irresponsible.

The woman writes that in the report.

Someone has placed my desk chair in the middle of the room and it’s startlingly out of place. Fingers clutching the bottom of the chair, my bare feet twisting on the tile floor, I stare down into my lap as the officer sits in a chair across from me. I can’t look her in the eye. She is rigid and terse in her black suit. I can’t hear her questions over the buzzing in my head. I ask again to leave the room—the air chokes me. But it’s seemingly important we linger here, facing each other in the midst of the dirty room and soiled sheets.

I hang my head, muttering responses, not really hearing, not really responding. Maybe it appears suspicious, this inability to uncurl from myself, the unwillingness to engage with the officer, but I don’t realize I’m already being scrutinized and questioned and mistrusted. I don’t realize it starts this early.

An MP offers to take me to the criminal investigation department office and I’m relieved to escape the room. I scuttle out the door, shoulders slumped forward, feet shoved into shower shoes. This MP is animated and playful. He grins and assures me everything will be fine. He has a big smile and he makes small talk and I respond because I need to fill the space with white noise. I need it to distract me. I’m grateful for that small talk but it’s the wrong thing to do. “She didn’t act like a rape victim,” they’ll say.

They’ll write that in the report.

I don’t cry. I don’t know why that is. I should cry. That’s what rape victims do. They cry but I don’t and I don’t know why. They write that in the report, too.

They take me to a medical clinic where no one is happy to be woken up at three in the morning.

I inconvenience everyone.


  • A 2019 New England Book Awards Finalist

    Longlisted for the 2019 Outstanding Works of Literature (OWL) Awards

    An Esquire Best Nonfiction Book of the Year

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  • "Urgent and necessary."—--Esquire
  • "Rape victims must yell, cry and fight, says the Army that trained us for years to be silent, strong and obedient."—New York Times
  • "FORMATION is a brilliant addition to the memoirs of war. With grounded and elegant prose Dostie narrates her harrowing journey into combat and through the violet quagmire of Military Sexual Trauma. We should all read this heroic and timely book."—Anthony Swofford, New York Times bestselling author of Jarhead
  • "Raw, explosive...Dostie writes powerfully...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."— Publishers Weekly
  • "Though I knew it would be urgent, compelling, and excellent from the first page, Formation was a much more expansive book than I even could have suspected: a riveting, enraging memoir from an author of remarkable toughness and emotional range. This is an unflinching and honest account of war, of homecoming, and of what happens when a woman reports an assault and the institutions around her try to smother the truth."—Phil Klay, National Book Award-winning author of Redeployment
  • "Formation grabs us by the collar and never relents, much like Dostie herself, whose path to independence gets paved with blood and sacrifice. Her gripping memoir lays bare the pain of proving yourself in a man's world, but also the rich rewards. Most of us will probably never go to war, but Dostie's story speaks to a daily struggle many of us face: the battle to believe in ourselves."—Sarah Hepola, New York Times bestselling author of Blackout
  • "An essential telling of one woman's account of training and combat: staggeringly beautiful, gutsy, and harrowing. Dostie has written the rare memoir that is destined to be a classic. I couldn't put this book down and I never wanted it to end."—Christa Parravani, bestselling author of Her: A Memoir
  • "This is a fierce memoir of survival-a visceral and vital portrait of what it takes to thrive as a woman in a man's world. Time is long overdue for the world to hear Ryan Leigh Dostie's remarkable story of resilience in the face of the unspeakable."—Susannah Cahalan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire
  • "Vital, brutal and absolutely compelling...A significant standout."—Marilyn Dahl, Shelf Awareness
  • "Here is the war memoir re-invented. Dostie offers a beautiful, soulful, and astonishingly fresh take on the war in Iraq, and a deeply original book. Formation should be a must read at West Point, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and all points in between."—Jake Halpern, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Paper
  • "Engaging...This powerful memoir explores issues of trauma, human rights, and the resilience needed to stand up for ourselves when everyone is trying to keep us quiet."—p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 13.0px 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}Inc.
  • "[An] unquestionably inspiring story traversing the personal and public battlefields of sexual assault in the armed forces...Each of these narratives deserves to be heard.—p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'; color: #333333}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}Kirkus
  • "What makes Formation more than a story of victimization is partly Dostie the soldier, a gritty protagonist we can root for. It's also partly Dostie the writer."—p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 13.0px 'Times New Roman'}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}Daily Nutmeg

On Sale
Jun 4, 2019
Page Count
368 pages

Ryan Leigh Dostie

About the Author

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 daughter, and one very large Alaskan Malamute. Formation is her first book.

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