A Novel by Lynn Kanter
ISBN 978-0-9913555-2-5, paperback, 211 pages, $18.95, November 2014
For decades, Della Brown has tried to forget her service as a U.S. Army nurse in Vietnam. But in the middle of the safe, sane life she’s built for herself, Della is ambushed by history. She receives a letter from a fellow combat nurse, a woman who was once her closest friend, and all the memories come flooding back: Della’s nightmarish introduction to the Twelfth Evacuation Hospital in Cu Chi, where every bed held a patient hideously wounded in ways never mentioned in nursing school. The day she learned how to tell young men they were about to die. The night her chopper pilot boyfriend failed to return from his mission.
Through these harrowing memories the reader encounters Della’s younger selves—the scared, naive nursing school graduate learning combat medicine on the job; then the traumatized young woman freshly returned from horrors no one wants her to speak about, masking her anguish with alcohol and cynical stoicism.
Even now, as a well-adjusted adult whose life is filled with meaningful work and the company of loved ones, Della has yet to come to terms with her painful history. She must also confront the fissures in her family life, the mystery of her father’s disappearance, the things mothers and daughters cannot—maybe should not—know about one another, and the lifelong repercussions of a single mistake.
An unflinching depiction of war and its personal costs, Her Own Vietnam is also a portrait of a woman in midlife — a mother, a nurse, and long ago a soldier.
LYNN KANTER is the author of the novels The Mayor of Heaven and On Lill Street. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including The Time of Our Lives: Women Write on Sex after 40 and Testimonies: Lesbian Coming-Out Stories. She works as a writer for the Center for Community Change, a national social justice organization, and lives with her partner in Washington, DC. Her website is here.
Praise for Her Own Vietnam
Well written, compassionate, and perceptively told, addressing the trauma felt by the “invisible” women in Vietnam.—Foreword Reviews
This novel is one of the best books about nurses in Vietnam.—VVA Veteran (national magazine of the Vietnam Veterans of America)
A cogent rebuttal to politicians who wax poetic about the glory and honor of war and militarism.—Fiction Writers Review
Her Own Vietnam will captivate you, and bring you to tears. It will also give you a deeper understanding of what military nurses endure.—Military Spouse Book Review
Kanter explores the life of Della Brown and the haunting effects of her time in Vietnam with great emotion and insight. This novel successfully captures a very specific time in history, but it also reveals the more subtle battles of a daughter, sister, wife, mother and friend. – Jill McCorkle, author of Life After Life and Going Away Shoes
A powerful and necessary reminder that the violence which happens in wars “over there” never stays there—it echoes and rebounds throughout the world, creating wounds in the head and heart that never quite heal. – Kristin Ohlson, author of The Soil Will Save Us and Stalking the Divine, coauthor of the New York Times bestseller The Kabul Beauty School
Her Own Vietnam is a wonderful accomplishment — moving, tender, raw and finally redemptive. – Masha Hamilton, author of What Changes Everything and 31 Hours
Lynn Kanter’s characters, Della and Charlene, could be anyone’s mother, sister, or daughter. Because they are so accessible, the reader finds it easy to journey with them. It should be a required trip for everyone, particularly those who think there is glory in war. – Mary Reynolds Powell, Captain, U.S. Army Nurse Corps, Vietnam 1970–71, and author of A World of Hurt: Between Innocence and Arrogance in Vietnam