Publisher: Steeple Hill (February 1, 2008)
Try To Mix
Tippens has studied the craft and has married a tight story with the classic romance formula and small town charm.
I didn't want to read this one. I have such a huge stack of books to get through that I couldn't bear the thought of one more...especially one I didn't think I'd like. I expected The Shack to be melodramatic and poorly written. Young was turned down by a lot of houses, and I figured that his writing skills might have something to do with it. But The Shack ended up on my local book club list, and I picked up a copy and began reading.
I was surprised by what I found between the covers of this little novel. The writing is compelling, a little overdone is some spots, a little mechanically iffy in others. The beginning scenes are a little slow moving, but it's solid and descriptive writing that paints pictures and engages senses. But the story, wow. The story is gripping and beautiful and awful and full of pain and sorrow and joy. I wept through a few scenes. Not dashed a tear away, but wept.
I'm not going to recommend it to everyone. There are some who shouldn't read it. If you can not separate fiction from doctrine, why set yourself up for annoyance? Theologically, this book soars on imagination, wonder, questions and it oozes grace. The Shack doesn't belong on a shelf full of Biblical study tools. Nor should it be read to discover error or to fuel a bully pulpit. The Shack should be read by people who are desperate to find healing or those who are sick and tired of religion. If you are afraid to think outside of your doctrinal lines, you will find much to be offended about. On the flip side, if the Shack or anything outside of Jesus becomes your hope for salvation, stop, turn aside to the Bible and discover Jesus as written through the Holy Spirit.
The several struggles I've noticed seem to be focused on the depiction of God and the gospel message. The author very clearly states that this is a story, a fictional account. Young bravely takes liberty with God, creating pictures and dialogue, putting words and emotion and spice into the God of the Bible. If this offends you, then you are probably not ready for the message in The Shack. But if you have an image of God as a lightning bolt throwing bully or a disinterested floating ruler or a bumbling fool, The Shack may just change your mind and possibly your life. The book does not share a Gospel where Jesus is anything but God the Son and fully human. His death and resurrection are clearly portrayed. The uncomfortable issue with the theology stems from the author's stretch of imagination and his obvious love for God. Truth is, God doesn't behave the way we expect Him to. Why should He? God doesn't answer to us, God doesn't have to do things the exact same way He has in the past, He's not bound by our limitations. God is complete and full without our understanding of His business or our definition of Him. God is big enough to work through fiction, truth, the Bible, nature, other people and whatever else He might choose.
Refusing to settle for anything less than a romantic relationship that pleases God, Faith O'Connor steels her heart against her desire for the roguish Collin McGuire. But when Collin tries to win her sister Charity's hand, Faith is not sure she can handle the jealousy she feels. To further complicate matters, Faith finds herself the object of Collin's affections, even as he is courting her sister. The Great War is raging overseas, and a smaller war is brewing in the O'Connor household.
Michelle Sutton review:
This is moving to the top of my list of favorite books of all time. It's packed with romantic tension, and emotional and spiritual passion. It made me crazy as I wasn't sure what I wanted them to do and my feelings were all over the place. I did enjoy the ending, though, as it was very satisfying and I cried through the last three chapters or so. Don't read ahead if you get this book. It'll spoil the joy and wonder of the story for you. I was tempted to do that several times (which I never do) because I so desperately wanted to know who Faith ended up with, but I was good and I'm glad I didn't peek.
What an emotional roller coaster ride! I got whiplash from the plot twists and the changing of the tides. My heart soared and plummeted along with Faith. I could not stop reading this book and hauled it with me everywhere. It's long (like 480 pages) but I wouldn't cut a thing. Everything is relevant and important to the story. I'll admit that I was extremely curious about this book after reading an article that said it was overly sensual. I disagree. Just because you are in her head and her thoughts are honest doesn't make it sensual. A lot of author's can write about kissing but most aren't daring enough to write the honest thoughts in a heroine's head. That's what this author did that was so fabulous. If she took out the internal thoughts she would remove the alleged sensuality, but then the passion is squeezed from the story and it would be a dry scene with description, but no life. I loved this story. It's daringly innovative and the most fabulous debut I've ever read. Plus, the historical portion of the novel was well done, too. I felt like I was there!
One last thought...I see this as a clearly Christian novel in that the emphasis is that having passion for God is what makes a marriage a beautiful, solid, and holy union and anything less than that is robbing you of the joy you could experience if you loved within the boundaries God set. It's a very strong message but done naturally and through the story. It feels real. I knew men like Collin who were insanely jealous of a woman's relationship with God and how they said they felt like they were competing with Him. Without the love of Christ in our hearts we are truly deprived of the most intimate love their is. This story delivers that message with such perfection I want every woman who has not married yet to read this book! It would save a lot of heartache if women trusted God in regards to their marriage partner. He wants marriage to be an example of his love for us and that cannot exist in a marriage without Him at the center.
Before you judge this book you need to read it for yourself. Initially I struggled with the number of POVs but once I got into the story I see how important that was for the author to include so many. Bravo!