Army veteran misfits, a college dropout, an unmotivated high school graduate
accused of murder, a controversial warden of a women's prison, and a little
girl with the gift of prophesy – these are the people 31-year-old Lara Kruger
invites into her life after suffering a miscarriage, a divorce from an abusive
husband, and unemployment.
away from her desk and paused in front of the unframed full-length mirror she
had salvaged from the recent renovations in the women’s shower rooms.The edges were chipped and blackened, and
there was a fairly large crack that ran vertically from one corner to the
other.The condition of the mirror was
the result, no doubt, of one of many displays of frustration and anger within
the prison walls before she took over.Still, the mirror served its purpose.On those rare occasions when Warden Miriam Temple of the Braden Women’s
Correctional Institution needed to be sure she looked her best, at least she
could do so in the privacy of her own office.
reflection, she saw a tall, aging fifty-nine-year-old woman with dark hair
streaked with gray cut in a simple shag, myopic brown eyes made evident by the
wire-framed glasses, and a raw-boned body that could be considered
well-proportioned if it weren’t for the fact that it was about twenty pounds on
the heavy side, fifteen of which had settled around her thighs and
buttocks.“Pear shaped, as opposed to
apple shaped,” she frequently reminded herself, “so that means at least I won’t
die of a heart attack.”The fact that
her ear lobes were also plump and didn’t have the diagonal creases indicating
some type of heart disease seemed to confirm that fact.She didn’t know if these old-wives’ tales she
had grown up with were really true, but she liked to keep an open mind,
especially when they worked to her benefit.
didn’t wear make-up, but this morning before leaving for work, she had dug out
her small tapestry bag that held what few cosmetics she owned and applied a
little blush and a touch of lipstick.She rubbed one cheek with her hand now, thinking that maybe she
shouldn’t have bothered.She didn’t need
to impress anyone.Even if there had
been the awkwardness that sometimes comes with being a large woman, it had been
replaced years ago by the confidence born from a privileged background and the
level of acceptance and comfort from which she viewed herself.
Her dark gray
suit and crisp white blouse were clean and unwrinkled, thanks to the prison
laundry facilities.The plain black
pumps she wore looked both practical and appropriate to complete the over-all
appearance of discipline, control, strength, and above all, a positive
attitude.It was the attitude within the
prison that Miriam had worked the hardest on when she took over as head warden
six years earlier.There had been a
stifling wave of hopelessness and despair among the female inmates so thick it
made it difficult to breathe.This was
manifested daily in brawls, food fights, and a behavior of non-compliance in
general.“Animals get treated better
than we do,” had been the mantra at the prison.
For six years
Miriam had been working fourteen-hour days, overseeing the operations of the
facility, staying on top of problems, writing reports, and talking to every
person she could reach about helping to set up programs for “her girls” as she
referred to them.Each of Miriam’s
programs offered something to a few of her girls, but not to all, something she
struggled with daily.She constantly
researched what other correctional institutions were doing not only in this
country but other countries as well, trying to come up with new ways to
stimulate her girls and help them feel enthusiastic about their lives.
worked.She started getting noticed
after the first year of her tenure.Complaints from the prisoners dropped, a State audit confirmed that for
the first time in over a decade the prison budget would be in the black, and
the over-all appearance of the facility was vastly improved.Government officials who previously had been
reluctant to show interest now started to open doors for this hard-working,
persistent, and obviously dedicated woman.
Prissy had been born.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
is president of the Barbara Casey Agency, representing adult fiction and
nonfiction for authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, and
Japan.She is also the author of
numerous articles, poems, and short stories.Her award-winning novels have received national recognition, including
the Independent Publishers Book Award, the Dana Award for Best Novel, and the
Publisher’s Best Seller Award.Her
novel, The House of Kane, released in 2008, was considered for a Pulitzer
nomination, and her novel Just Like Family received special recognition by the
7-Eleven Corporation.Two other novels,
The Gospel According to Prissy (released in the spring of 2013) and Shyla’s
Initiative, both received an IPPY Award for Best Book in Regional Fiction. Her
most recent young/new adult book, The Cadence of Gypsies, has been selected as
an Amazon Best Read and received the 2013 IPPY Living Now Award.
to being a frequent guest lecturer at universities and writers’ conferences,
Ms. Casey served as judge for the Pathfinder Literary Awards in Palm Beach and
Martin Counties, Florida, and was the Florida Regional Advisor for the Society
of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators from 1991 through 2003.