About Kelly S. Thompson

Kelly is a retired military officer with a master’s in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, and is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing in the UK. Kelly won the House of Anansi Press Golden Anniversary Award, the 2014 and 2017 Barbara Novak Award for Personal Essay, and was shortlisted for Room magazine’s 2013, 2014, and 2019 Creative Nonfiction awards. Her essays appeared in several anthologies, including national bestseller, Everyday Heroes (Simon & Schuster), and in publications such as ChatelaineMaclean’s, Maisonneuve, and more. Her memoir, Girls Need Not Apply, was an instant national bestseller, and was listed by the Globe and Mail as one of the top 100 books of 2019.

Kelly’s next novel, Still I Cannot Save You, will be published by McClelland & Stewart, in January 2023.

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From the publisher:

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.


“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, author of The Last Resort

Throughout Girls Need Not Apply, Thompson decries the double standard that results in different treatment for men and women. But she does not appear to be looking for pity or revenge. Nor does she go out of her way to recommend specific changes that might help future female soldiers. She simply tells a forthright, painful personal story as closely as she can remember it.”

Quill & Quire