cover image Healer's War

Healer's War

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. Doubleday Books, $17.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-385-24828-0

A former military nurse in Vietnam, Scarborough turns here from her humorous fantasies ( The Drastic Dragon of Draco, Texas ) to this mostly realistic novel of Army nurse Kathleen McCulley's coming of age. Her tour of duty at China Beach puts the young woman from Kansas through the usual mixture of empathy for the Vietnamese and anger at the indifference or outright racism of army personnel. The unanticipated twist is a hallucinatory journey through the jungle with a one-legged Vietnamese boy, a battle-seasoned but crazy soldier and a magic amulet given her by a dying holy man. Although its moralizing invites comparison with TV's MASH and Twilight Zone , Scarborough's light, fluid storytelling and the authentic, pungent background keep this novel interesting. (Nov.)