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.
MONDAY: Over at Kelcey Parker’s blog, PhD in Creative Writing, read Lynn’s Q & A about how she became a writer.
TUESDAY: Lynn discusses her early years as a political activist, during the Vietnam War, at Book Puke.
THURSDAY: What would you tell your 22-year-old self about forgiveness? This is a question Della Brown faces for nearly three decades. At The Next Best Book Club blog, several women answer this question.
*The tour also takes a little detour to visit Amy Sue Nathan‘s blog today.
FRIDAY: The tour finishes up at [PANK] where Lynn answers questions about the content of her novel in interview format.
Lynn Kanter is the author of the novels Her Own Vietnam (2014, Shade Mountain Press), The Mayor of Heaven (1997) and On Lill Street(1992), both published by Third Side Press. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies Lost Orchard (SUNY Press), Breaking Up is Hard to Do, and The Time of Our Lives: Women Write on Sex After 40(both Crossing Press), and the literary journal Verbsap. Her nonfiction has appeared inReferential Magazine and the anthologies Coming Out of Cancer (Seal Press), Testimonies (Alyson Publications) and Confronting Cancer, Constructing Change (Third Side Press).
Lynn is a lifelong activist for feminist and other progressive causes, and has the T-shirts to prove it. Since 1992 Lynn has worked as a writer for the Center for Community Change, a national social justice organization. She lives with her wife in Washington, DC.