Girls Need Not Apply: Field Notes from the Forces

Girls Need Not Apply: Field Notes from the Forces by Kelly S. Thompson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: August 20th, 2019
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Memoir, Military, Coming of Age, Feminism


I have such mixed feelings about this memoir. I was very excited to read it because I don’t recall ever reading a memoir from someone who served in the army, let alone a woman, and because I could feel it in my bones that it would be impactful. I enjoy both light and heavy stories so I was ready for an arrow to pierce my heart.

After reading it, I can say that there was definitely lots of potential with this story to make readers actually feel the truth of what it means to be a woman who serves in the army but the author did not quite deliver on the feeling part. She does make the reader understand what happened to her by providing context, explanation and lots of information. It’s a shame that emotion isn’t always there because so many scenes deserved for my heart to drop or squeeze or for my skin to get goosebumps but only my brain really reacted to Kelly S. Thompson’s words.

It’s really all about the delivery. I was definitely affected by the sexual assaults that occurred—who wouldn’t be—but the author mentioned them in almost a matter-of-fact way when I think there should have been more intensity in the writing. But I did still appreciate the author discussing these topics, which must not have been all that easy for her. She also made me realize that even if you are part of something bigger than yourself, you need to have self-respect as well as stand up for yourself. A soldier is not just a body meant for defence and attack. There is a human being underneath.


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