Christian Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Excerpts

Burney’s Talent Conveys Love for People, Jesus and Fiction

  • Annabelle Robertson Contributing Writer
  • 2008 4 Nov
Burney’s Talent Conveys Love for People, Jesus and Fiction

Author:  Claudia Mair Burney
Title:  Wounded (A Love Story)
Publisher:  David C. Cook

Single mom Regina “Gina” Delores Merritt just wants to love Jesus, and be loved in return. So imagine her surprise when, on Ash Wednesday at her non-denominational church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, her savior “kisses” her hand and makes it bleed. “Stigmatica,” the Catholics call these wounds, and Gina is as confused as her pastor about the blister-like lesion that cover her palm and the exterior of her hand.  It continues to bleed.

Sitting next to Gina in the church balcony, watching the drama unfold, is Anthony Priest.  A Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, Priest, as he is called, is addicted to heroin and only goes to church to get a bulletin for his editor. But when he touches Gina’s hand, he feels a strange peace.  Priest doesn’t know it yet, but he has been healed. Mesmerized by Gina’s looks, her faith and the first sense of joy that he’s known in years, he follows her home where, against all odds, the two become friends. Priest wants to help her raise her child, and overcome her fibromyalgia and bipolar disorder.

As they journey toward health and wholeness in Christ, Priest and Gina encounters an interesting cast of characters.  All have something to say about Gina’s stigmatica.

Author Claudia Mair Burney is mother to seven children, one adult novel (Zora and Nicky: A Novel in Black and White) and two series for teens (the Amanda Bell Brown Mysteries and Exorsistah Series).  In her writing, she has a raw talent which conveys her passionate love for people, Jesus and fiction. Her storyline is interesting, her characters have depth and her plot holds together for satisfying, even moving, conclusion.

Burney’s talents are still developing, however. She has an ongoing tendency to over-explain her character’s thoughts, which slows down the pace and prevents her writing from being as good as it could.  It’s the classic “show don’t tell” mistake and, while Burney isn’t the worst offender on the block, she could use a strong editor.

She also struggles with her various points of view. Multiple viewpoints—and in the first person, no less—is a challenge for any author.  Without the safety net of the third person, however, it’s tough to distinguish different characters and give each their own unique voice.  And unfortunately, Burney doesn’t carry it off.

You may be skeptical when it comes to the phenomenon of stigmatica; many evangelicals are. But the book does not push a conclusion. Instead, the issue is merely an invitation to shed your preconceived ideas about the way God works, much as first-century Jews were forced to do when Jesus arrived.  If you can embrace this mindset, you’ll be blessed by the book.  And if, like Gina, you are truly hungering for more of Jesus, this story will whet your appetite even more.