When Claudia Mair Burney's new book out from Cook arrived on my in-pile, I thought something along the lines of "Sigh." I'd only read one book by this author before, and while I enjoyed most of it, I didn't care for the ending. I was kinda afraid this would have the same kick-me-while-I'm-down thing going, but I dutifully picked it up anyway. And fell in love.
Zora & Nicky is a look into the lives of the title characters that will redefine your entire way of thinking. Zora is a young, wealthy black woman whose father is an influential minister in the Prosperity movement. Nicky is the down-on-his-luck son of a white Southern Baptist preacher who'd run for the senate not long ago. To the world, these two couldn't look more different. But after they both walk out of their respective churches one Sunday, fed up with the rhetorics of their fathers, they meet at an informal Bible study--and are never the same again.
This is such a timely, relevant book right now. It's unafraid to look deep into some popular denominations, it's unafraid to deal with race issues head one. And Burney arrives at a place where the reader, no matter his/her color, is touched by the honesty of the character's hearts.
I was raised in a community with next to no minorities, and with the belief that everyone was made equal. When a minority did come into our area, I can honestly say I barely even noted the difference in their skin color. Growing up like that, at once sheltered and well-taught, watching the news could be weird. First of all, what was with all the prejudice? And why did the black community always assume prejudice?
Those two questions are at the heart of this book--Zora sees everything Nicky does as racist, and Nicky has to figure out how to get around that by looking at things through her eyes. He isn't racist, not in his heart. But before he can convince her of that, he has to understand that she was indeed raised to think that everything's different for a black person.
This is a story of profound sensitivity and yet hard-hitting facts. It pulls no punches, whether they be concerning the lustful thoughts of the hero or the sad reality of the world as we know it. But it leaves you not only with hope, but with understanding. I couldn't put this book down, and long after I turned the last page, it's still with me.
As I watch the latest "race issue" debacle on the news, I shake my head and think, "EVERYONE ought to read Zora & Nicky!" The world might just get a little brighter if they did.