Claudia Mair Burney
David C. Cook, Sep 2008, $13.99
In Ann Arbor, Michigan, due to her health issues, twenty-four years old African-American Regina “Gina” Dolores Merritt is very aware of her fitness as she suffers from bipolar, fibromyalgia and migraines. Gina has tried suicide when her mental wellbeing turned so bleak even for her depressing standard, but miraculously (or in her mind despondently as even Hell rejected her) she survived. She turned to Jesus for salvation for her and her child Zoe as she feels she shares his suffering.
On Ash Wednesday at the Vineyard Church Gina attends, she is stunned and near hysterical when Christ wounds, the stigmata, begins to appear on her. As the flock is in shock with this seeming miracle occurring to the crazy person, word begins to spread around Ann Arbor. Many assume Gina the insane did it to herself as the self proclaimed pious prophets insist Jesus would never pick a certifiable suicidal single mom. However soon afterward, addict Anthony Priest offers his help to the beleaguered stunned single mom as does his estranged mom Veronica Morelli; but even Gina wonders what does either expect to gain with their self-proclaimed pious offers.
This unique inspirational tale is an entreating character study, but not your typical faith fiction. Jesus is treated both as a person with human lovers and as the Son of God; while Gina is the last person anyone would expect as the Chosen One. The story line is told mostly from a first person introspective that rotates amongst the key players; especially fascinating is Gina, the self anointed oldest twenty-four years old person in the world. Through her, the audience obtains an insightful exacting look at sharing Christ's suffering rather than the distant metaphysical metaphor that is like the Iraq War for many Americans. Although there is some intrusive padding involving saints, readers who prefer well written but different spins to their Christian literature will enjoy the crazy woman’s miracle.