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Biography & Autobiography Women

Girls Need Not Apply

Field Notes From the Forces

by (author) Kelly S. Thompson

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Aug 2019
Women, Personal Memoirs, Military
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2019
    List Price

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This inspiring, compelling debut memoir chronicles the experiences of a female captain serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, and her journey to make space for herself in a traditionally masculine world.

At eighteen years old, Kelly Thompson enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces. Despite growing up in a military family—she would, in fact, be a fourth-generation soldier—she couldn't shake the feeling that she didn't belong.
     From the moment she arrives for basic training at a Quebec military base, a young woman more interested in writing than weaponry, she quickly realizes that her conception of what being a soldier means, forged from a desire to serve her country after the 9/11 attacks, isn't entirely accurate. A career as a female officer will involve navigating a masculinized culture and coming to grips with her burgeoning feminism.
     In this compulsively readable memoir, Thompson writes with wit and honesty about her own development as a woman and a soldier, unsparingly highlighting truths about her time in the military. In sharply crafted prose, she chronicles the frequent sexism and misogyny she encounters both in training and later in the workplace, and explores her own feelings of pride and loyalty to the Forces, and a family legacy of PTSD, all while searching for an artistic identity in a career that demands conformity. When she sustains a career-altering injury, Thompson fearlessly re-examines her identity as a soldier.
     Girls Need Not Apply is a refreshingly honest story of conviction, determination, and empowerment, and a bit of a love story, too.

About the author

Contributor Notes

KELLY S. THOMPSON is a former captain in the Canadian Armed Forces, retiring after an injury, and is now a writer and editor based out of the Toronto area. She has a degree in Professional Writing from York and an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. Her work has appeared in magazines including Maclean's, Chatelaine, and Maisonneuve, as well as in various anthologies and collections. Her essay "Basically Broken" appeared in the bestselling 2017 anthology Everyday Heroes. Her essay "We Are a (Military) Family" won the 2013 Barbara Novak Award for Excellence in Personal Essay. Her essay "Strip, Reveal and Sex Appeal" won the 2017 Barbara Novak Award for Excellence in Personal Essay. This is her first book.

Editorial Reviews

Advance Praise for Girls Need Not Apply:

In Girls Need Not Apply, Kelly S. Thompson presents us with a masterclass in resilience. With equal parts strength and vulnerability, Thompson navigates what it means to find belonging—and success—in a hyper-masculinized culture that was never built for women. A must-read for those of us who make it our daily habit to smash through age-old, sexist barriers.” —Lauren McKeon, author of F-Bomb: Dispatches from the War on Feminism
“I couldn’t look away from this open-hearted and unflinchingly honest coming-of-age memoir until I’d turned the last page. A fierce, emotional debut by an author to watch!” —Marissa Stapley, Globe and Mail bestselling author of The Last Resort

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