This is the first book of Elizabeth Ann Scarborough's that I ever read. It is so masterfully written that I immediately began collecting everything of hers that I could find.
She was a nurse in Viet Nam, and this book evolved out of her experiences. It is a fantasy, but so realistic and cathartic that I was riveted to her story.
From the back cover:
No one could have told Lt. Kitty McCulley that this was what it meant to be a war nurse. That she was going to Vietnam not to heal, but to ready her patients for the real pain. Not to alleviate suffering, but to become an object of contempt and misdirected lust. Not to try to save all victims, but to choose sides against people she thought she was there to help. No one could have told her. And it wouldn't have made a difference anyway.
When one of her patients, a revered Vietnamese holy man, gives Kitty and unusual amulet, her world is changed forever. The amulet gives her the power to navigate through the treacherous human maze of friends and foes -- and to touch people in a way that gives meaning to life in the midst of a meaningless war. It is a power she will need to save not only her sanity, but her life. For when Kitty is stranded in the enemy-held jungle with a child and a lone American soldier, she becomes witness to war at its most horrifying... and its most human.
A multifaceted, riveting reading experience, The Healer's War is one of the first novels to explore the life of a military nurse in Vietnam. It is a powerful, evocative, and touching story that extends the bounds of fantastic fiction to offer a richly satisfying saga of the human heart.