Within the first few pages of this novel, the reader is thrust into the midst of a family--their past history, their present tragedy, and their future healing.  Kitty Duvall, a middle-aged woman living in Baltimore, Maryland, receives a phone call informing her that her son, soldier Vincent Duvall, has been injured in Viet Nam and now lies, severely burned, in the Intensive Care Unit of Brooke Army Medical Center.  Kitty packs her bags and rushes to his bedside.  Thus begins this straight forward and yet complex story, one that weaves between past and present, one that examines the lives of caregivers, especially nurses; the lives of patients, particularly those young men and women sacrificed to war; and the lives of the parents who must, as Kitty does, find their places alongside their dying or healing children, always wondering how best to help them. 

Although this book is a novel, it reads like a memoir.  Indeed, the events of the novel seem so right and so accurate because the author served as a lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps at Brooke Army Medical Center during the Vietnam War.  Her own experience as a nurse, her own memories of the burned and wounded men, inform this novel and bring to it an accuracy and an urgency that takes the reader behind the scenes into unforgettable images of war and recovery.  Although set in the Vietnam era, this story is especially relevant today, when once again soldiers and their families must deal with the physical and emotional wages of battle.



Mysko's writing is clear and evocative; her characters are finely drawn and so believable that, by the novel's end, a reader might feel that he or she actually knows this family and has been involved in their lives, watching from the sidelines their individual tragedies and triumphs.  While the main story of Vincent's injuries and his mother's presence moves swiftly and steadily forward, several subplots enrich the novel.  The novel is not only about the physical healing of wounds but also about the events that occur outside the hospital walls: Kitty Duvall comes to terms with a difficult marriage; she contemplates a religion lost and found again; she negotiates her changing role in her grown children's lives.  Equally fascinating are the lives of the characters who populate the Intensive Care Unit: Vincent's fellow soldiers and doctors and nurses who have their own battles, professional and personal, to fight.

This novel will appeal both to student and experienced caregivers, and perhaps especially to women whose lives have been suddenly brought into question, and then into focus, by a child's injury or illness.  


Plain View Press

Place Published

Austin, Texas



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