Her Own Vietnam has been out in the world for four months now. Let me share a little about what that feels like for the author.
Publishing a novel is like releasing a long, silvery fish into a swift-moving river. You know your fish is out there, you catch a glimpse of it now and then, but you can never be sure exactly where it is or what is happening in its dim watery world.
One glimpse I get of my novel is through book reviews. Her Own Vietnam has gotten some great reviews, most recently a five-star review in the Spring 2015 edition of the magazine Foreword Reviews. You can read excerpts from all the reviews here.
For me, the most meaningful reviews are the comments I get from readers, either through email or on sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Here are a few: Paul Hellweg is a male Vietnam veteran and a writer himself, with a Vietnam website (www.VietnamWarPoetry.com). He wrote:
I’ve just finished Her Own Vietnam, and reading it has been a meaningful experience. Lynn Kanter accurately portrays the long-term effects of PTSD. In particular, I liked and appreciated the acknowledgement of how people with no experience of psychological trauma cannot comprehend how the victim suffers. Like Della Brown in the novel, I’ve encountered way too many folks who think the war is all over now and I should just forget about it… I also like the way the book portrays the loneliness of a trauma survivor living in a world where no one else understands you.
On the Goodreads website, a reader wrote:
Five stars means “Drop what you’re doing and read it. This book blew me out of the water.” Her Own Vietnam gets five stars.
Each member of the cast is vividly drawn, none is a type or stereotype, yet as an ensemble they convey the complex, bitter legacy of the Vietnam War and even offer hope that we might as a people come to terms with it if we can muster the courage to look ourselves in the eye. Her Own Vietnam is a tour de force.
And on Amazon, where all of Her Own Vietnam’s reviews have been five stars, one of my favorites said:
This is a wonderful novel. It was so enthralling, I didn’t want the book to end! The characters (love, love, love Della and Charlene) and plot lines are rich, moving and powerful. Allows all of us to ask, no matter our own experience or inexperience with matters of war, incredibly difficult questions of ourselves and our society about the ravages that violent conflict has on the human race.
A special thrill
And one more glimpse: The renowned historian David Roediger (author of The Wages of Whiteness) is teaching Her Own Vietnam in his American studies class at the University of Kansas. I love the idea of young people using my book as a tool to examine and understand the Vietnam war.
So, my novel is swimming out there somewhere. As I stand on the riverbank, straining to see that flash of silver, I can only hope that each reader who finds Her Own Vietnam will tell one other person, “Hey, you’ve got to read this book.”