Three 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.
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The young child skipped through the tall trees and underbrush, unaware of the puddles created by recent rains or the low-lying tree branches and vines that swiped at her coveralls and scratched her bare arms. Hugging a doll that showed the wear of a favorite toy and a faint smudge of chocolate ice cream, the child pushed forward with determination. She knew where she wanted to go, and her face showed the intensity and resolve of a person much older than her five years. The black woman wearing the uniform of a prison guard struggled to keep up with her young charge. The thick green tangle of natural forest growth and uneven turf was more of a challenge to a woman her size and stature.
The child stopped when she reached a clearing, that place in the woods that wasn’t quite so overgrown and where the wild vegetation had been pressed from previous visits. In front of her was a tree, magnificent in size, ancient in age. She had reached her destination. She called it, quite simply, “the place.” Quietly, reverently, she approached the tree, reaching out and touching the familiar rough surface and its many irregular crevices. She squatted where some roots had pushed upward and were now gnarled and covered in bark before extending downward again deep into the soil. It was between two of these large root formations that the child placed the doll – a throne. Her hand explored the curvature of one darkened root, first touching the soft green moss, and then the small indented place that held water whenever it rained. It was moist. Satisfied, she knelt. Then, lowering her head and folding her dimpled hands together, she started to pray.
Barbara Casey 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. Her latest young adult novel, The Cadence of Gypsies, was reviewed by the Smithsonian for its list of 2011 Best Books. The Gospel According to Prissy, a contemporary adult novel, was released in the spring of 2013.
In addition 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.
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