Incense & Peppermints
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, May 2 2014, $16.00
In 2011 Memphis, sexagenarian nurse Cindy Sweet receives a Facebook message from her fiancé Ryan Paul Quinlan, who allegedly died in Vietnam over four decades ago. Stunned she thinks back to 1965 when idealistic Cindy voluntarily joined the military as a nurse assigned to the 24th Evacuation Hospital at Long Binh. She faced death and maimed victims on her first day and every day afterward while serving in Nam. Cindy still sees the face of her first dying soldier; a youngster from South Carolina whose last wish she could not grant.
Cindy also reflects on her first innocent love before she volunteered Gary McCartney; her passionate second in Nam with Ryan; and her calm final one with Sergeant David Ansgar whom mentored her as she adjusted to the frantic existence at the 24th. Though encouraged by her husband David, this hesitant grandma must decide whether she wants to meet Ryan at the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
This is a reflective Vietnam War tale starring an innocent growing up rather quickly when faced immediately with dying and severely wounded young soldiers; just the title (from the Strawberry Alarm Clock song) will remind boomers of the sixties furor. Carole Bellacera provides a gripping storyline due to the support cast (patients and staff) who bring a timely haunting message that the cost of war is not just in combat dollars, but also the impact on those fighting and their loved ones; that lingers on for decades after the last soldier came home.