Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wounded: a love story by Claudia Mair Burney

Wounded: a love story by Claudia Mair Burney

Some stories continue to haunt me long after I've closed the book and put it down. Wounded is one of them. I had no idea what to expect, though the author told me it had been a difficult book to write. It's part mystery (in both senses of the word), part detective story, and definitely about healing. This book left me changed in my understanding of the pain to which we are all heir to in one way or another.

The story began at an Ash Wednesday service with Gina who described her fibromyalgia and bipolar self like this: "One day I'd lay my pain-filled body down, along with my bipolar brain that stuttered between dancing and lying in sackcloth and ashes. I'd take off the cheap polyester dress of corruption and put on glittering incorruptible couture. Best of all, I'd be with Jesus face-to-face. That's all I wanted - all I wanted in the whole wide world."

Seated next to Gina in the church was Anthony Priest. Illegitimate son and drug addict, he lived for the next fix of his combination of heroin and cocaine--he called it "getting medicated." He went to church that night driven by desperation. "Perhaps the wounded kid deep down inside of me needed some sign of grace...Maybe I thought I'd find a hint of absolution."

As Gina approached the front of the church for the imposition of ashes, she kept asking Jesus to share His suffering with her. Anthony was right behind her hoping to find grace and peace. In an ecstasy, Gina had a vision that Jesus was in front of her, and that He kissed her hand.

Anthony, lost in thought, heard Gina scream, and through his haze of drugs, he noted the scent of roses in the air, and saw blood falling from Gina's hand. He reached out and took her hand, and described what happened next like this: "Some kind of holy high held fast to me and killed my other buzz inn an instant."

That was just the beginning of a captivating, action-filled story. The lives of Anthony and Gina are intertwined with so many other people whose lives are in turn touched by Gina's stigmata and each has a different response. There are a lot of unpredictable twists and turns, no easy answers, and some heavy themes in Wounded. This fiction book touched my heart.

Claudia Mair Burney is "The Ragamuffin Diva." Gina's life reflects much of what Burney has lived through herself. You can find her on Facebook, and she keeps a blog called "Ragamuffin Diva." She currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky where she continues to write.

Wounded can be checked out of the Marion County Library.