Daddy is going to
camp. That’s what I told my children. A child psychologist suggested it. “Words
like prison and jail conjure up dangerous images for children,” she explained.
But it wasn’t camp…
Neil White, a journalist and magazine publisher, wanted the best for
those he loved—nice cars, beautiful homes, luxurious clothes. He loaned money
to family and friends, gave generously to his church, and invested in his
community—but his bank account couldn’t keep up. Soon White began moving money
from one account to another to avoid bouncing checks. His world fell apart when
the FBI discovered his scheme and a judge sentenced him to serve eighteen
months in a federal prison.
But it was no ordinary prison. The beautiful, isolated colony in
Carville, Louisiana, was also home to the last people in the continental United
States disfigured by leprosy. Hidden away for decades, this small circle of
outcasts had forged a tenacious, clandestine community, a fortress to repel the
cruelty of the outside world. It is here, in a place rich with history, where
the Mississippi River briefly runs north, amid an unlikely mix of leprosy
patients, nuns, and criminals, that White’s strange and compelling journey
begins. He finds a new best friend in Ella Bounds, an eighty-year-old African
American double amputee who had contracted leprosy as a child. She and the
other secret people, along with a wacky troop of inmates, help White rediscover
the value of simplicity, friendship, and gratitude.
Funny and poignant,
In the Sanctuary of Outcasts is an uplifting memoir that
reminds us all what matters most.
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