Winner of 2013 IPPY Award
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.
Barbara Casey Agency
Thirty-one-year-old Lara Kruger struggles to regain her confidence and independence after suffering a miscarriage caused by her abusive husband and losing her position as vice president of development at the local college when lack of funding forces it to close. When her best friend's teenage daughter, Beth, is accused of murdering Burt Sheridan, a security guard for Schlage Lock Company, Lara does everything she can to prove her innocence. In trying to help Beth, Lara becomes friends with fifty-nine-year-old Miriam Temple, the controversial warden of a women's prison, and a little girl, Prissy, who lives at the prison and is the joy of everyone there. Prissy, the daughter of Tanya Tilden, one of the prison inmates, possesses an unexplained gift – the gift of prophesy. When Tanya dies of AIDS, Lara discovers that Tanya's sister, Darnell, one of Beth's high school classmates, is the one who killed the security guard – someone Tanya had worked with before being sent to prison – when he refused her request for money to help with Prissy. Lara promises Darnell she will do everything she can to help her and Prissy, who now has to go live with her only living relative – an elderly grandmother.
Once Beth is released, Lara attempts to redefine her own life without the constant threat of her former husband, Jake, who has already remarried. She invites three military veterans who are suffering from the lingering effects of the VietNam War, a black former star athlete who is a college dropout, and Beth to form a cleaning service. Just as their business is getting organized, Jake is arrested for physically abusing his new wife; and Social Services, at Darnell's request, asks Lara to adopt Prissy. The "Maids of Honor," as they call themselves, quickly adjust to Prissy and her unusual prophesies that are a mixture of Bible scripture and fairy tales. Prissy lessens the pain that Lara feels with the loss of her own child, and Lara, aware of how much Prissy means to Miriam Temple and the inmates at the prison, includes frequent visits to the prison in Prissy's routine. When Darnell realizes she, too, is dying of AIDS, she reveals to Lara the reason she went to Burt Sheridan for money in the first place – he was Prissy's father – and she makes one last request: that Lara tell Prissy who her father was when she is old enough to understand. With the Maids doing well, Lara decides to accept a job offer from Miriam, working with the inmates on a community work-intern program. And gradually, with the help of her friends – Miriam Temple and the Maids – Lara is able to keep her promise to Darnell and realize the joy of being a loving mother.
Lara took short quick breaths. She wanted to wipe the perspiration from her face, but she couldn’t let go of the arms on the wheelchair. If she held on, she wouldn’t panic – she wouldn’t lose control. She saw Ben and a doctor come running down the hall toward her. She felt the blood-soaked towel she had been holding against her face earlier slip from her fingers. She heard the screams of the woman fade somewhere off in the distance and the sound of rushing water. Then she lost consciousness.
“Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. But Santa Claus was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and he gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s hand, because Santa Claus was with him; and whatever he did, Santa made it prosper.”
The Gospel According to Prissy