BookTalk with Mandy Mikulencak

BookTalk on The Last Suppers, with a reading from Forgiveness Road.

Mandy Mikulencak has been a writer her entire working life. First, as a newspaper reporter and editor, and then PR specialist for two national nonprofits and a United Nations agency. Her first book, Burn Girl, was honored with a 2016 Westchester Young Adult Fiction Award. She has written two works of historical fiction for Kensington Publishing's John Scognamiglio imprint: The Last Suppers (December 2017) and Forgiveness Road (February 2019).

Set in 1950s Louisiana, Mandy Mikulencak’s beautifully written and emotionally moving novel evokes both The Help and Dead Man Walking with the story of an unforgettable woman whose quest to provide meals for death row prisoners leads her into the secrets of her own past.

Many children have grown up in the shadow of Louisiana’s Greenmount State Penitentiary. Most of them—sons and daughters of corrections officers and staff—left as soon as they could. Yet Ginny Polk chose to come back to work as a prison cook. She knows the harsh reality of life within those walls—the cries of men being beaten, the lines of shuffling inmates chained together. Yet she has never seen them as monsters, not even those sentenced to execution. That’s why Ginny has taken on a special responsibility: preparing their last meals.

Pot roast or red beans and rice, coconut cake or pork neck stew…whatever the men ask for Ginny prepares, even meeting with their heartbroken relatives to get each recipe just right. The prison board frowns upon the ritual, as does Roscoe Simms, Greenmount’s Warden. Her daddy’s best friend before he was murdered, Roscoe has always watched out for Ginny, and their friendship has evolved into something deep and unexpected. But when Ginny stumbles upon information about the man executed for killing her father, it leads to a series of dark and painful revelations. Truth, justice, mercy—none of these are as simple as Ginny once believed. And the most shocking crimes may not be the ones committed out of anger or greed, but the sacrifices we make for love.

In Forgiveness Road, three generations of women in 1970s Mississippi find their lives ripped apart when 16-year-old Cissy Pickering shoots her father in the back. After surviving more than seven years of his abuse, she had to prevent him from having the same secret with her two baby sisters. When Cissy is remanded to the Greater Mississippi State Hospital, a caring psychiatrist tries to help, yet new revelations drive Cissy to retreat even further from reality. It will fall to Cissy’s maternal grandmother, despite her own failing health, to become Cissy’s advocate and rescuer. And over the course of an unlikely road trip, Janelle and Cissy confront the truths they’ve hidden from the world and themselves, finding courage, deep-rooted resilience, and a bond tender and tough enough to transform them both.

Event date: 
Thursday, April 11, 2019 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm
The Last Suppers Cover Image
ISBN: 9781496710048
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Kensington - November 27th, 2018

Forgiveness Road Cover Image
ISBN: 9781496710062
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: A John Scognamiglio Book - February 26th, 2019