Zora and Nicky by Claudia Mair Burney is not your average Christian novel. While it covers ground well-trodden it does so with a fresh voice and pushes the boundaries of Contemporary Christian fiction.
Zora is the daughter of a prominent black pastor, the self-proclaimed Bishop of a mega-church. Nicky is the son of an equally well known white pastor, who pastors a hell-fire and brimstone Southern Baptist congregation.
Both are trying to be what their parents want. Zora’s father pays her bills, buys her only the top designers in everything from clothes to furniture and gives her a Lexus to drive. In exchange she works a mindless job at the church and is expected to marry the young man her father is personally grooming. Deep down she’s an artist though, and she wants desperately to paint, which her family thinks is simply unacceptable.Nicky has returned home from Berkley to try and reconcile with this father, who wants him to go to seminary and take his place. He’s dating a beautiful girl in whom he has no interest, beyond the physical, and is trying to turn from his lustful ways. Both are fed up with what their fathers are preaching. Zora’s father preaches prosperity to the point of neglecting the gospel, and Nicky’s father recycles his hell-fire and brimstone sermons and no one seems to mind.
When they meet at a Bible study sparks fly and set off a chain of events that will alter both their lives.
Unable to bear the pretense any longer, Zora stands up to her father and voices her true opinion about what she wants for her life. He retaliates by taking everything from her but the clothes on her back and the empty shell of an apartment that is in her name. In her moment of need her friends from the Bible study, including Nicky, reach out to help and a romance begins to blossom between the two “preacher‘s kids.”
The road ahead of them is far from easy. As friends and family turn on them, the true ugly nature of those who have been professing Christ is revealed. Zora and Nicky must also come to terms with the darkness in their own hearts and learn to trust each other.
Ms. Burney doesn’t shy away from talk of Nicky’s lust problem, he wrestles with perverted thoughts and temptations. It is here that readers will find content that is a bit edgier than what is standard fare for Christian fiction, though it never crosses the line to anything inappropriate. The characters in the book make bad choices and suffer the consequences and they are far from perfect. In spite of their faith several characters struggle with things like drinking and swearing, though we never see any profanity. In all, the reality of the book is both jarring and refreshing.
While the tale takes a few predictable turns it deals frankly with racism, regardless of skin color and makes for a compelling read. While I wouldn’t recommend this book for a younger audience, adults should find Zora and Nicky very thought-provoking.