Wednesday, January 16, 2008

William Young's The Shack ~ Reviewed

The Shack
By William P. Young
Published by: Wind Blown Media
248 pages

Back Cover:

Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.

Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant "The Shack" wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!


This book is about so much more than the gruesome details of how this little girl dies. The author deals with this subject tactfully and respectfully. All of a sudden I was reading along and the thought occurred to me that this book might be like a book I read (that really touched me) called “Dinner with a Perfect Stranger” by David Gregory; but it was nothing like that book. That book was fun and light hearted. William Young takes you into the depths of Mackenzie’s pain and has God show up.

God wants to heal Mackenzie from the inside out. Mack can’t believe this is happening. Did he die and go to heaven? This can’t be God he doesn’t care about him or love him because he let his innocent daughter Missy be murdered. I don’t want any part of this God he thinks. I don’t know why he came?

I don’t want to say too much detail about this book. I don’t want to tarnish your experience. I don’t want you to be swayed one way or the other on how God wants to use the message of this book to reveal Himself to you in a very unexpected and exhilarating way. But I do want to share this with you; a little glimpse inside this powerful book. The experience of this book is like listening to a song that touches your heart to the core and when it’s all over there is no clapping just silence as everyone reflects on what just happened in their heart, soul and mind.

The glimpse : This is what Mack says to God “ I hate all this – this crying and blubbering like an idiot, all these tears,” he moaned.

“Oh child,” spoke Papa tenderly. “Don’t ever discount the wonder of your tears. They can be healing waters and a stream of joy. Sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak.”

The Lord has His fingerprints inside this book for you to find and be transformed. This is not only a GREAT book; a must read; but an experience that will alter the way you look at life and God forever.

Reviewed by: Nora St. Laurent
Book Club Servant Leader

Bonus Review:

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.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer


William said...

Hey Kelly,
Thanks for the heart-led review...full of grace and color...much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I loved this book. I thought the theme of the breadth of God's love was such an important reminder. For me, it answered so many questions, as well as opening up new ways of thinking of things. Another book I recently read builds on this: Gita Nazareth's Forgiving Ararat. This book too explores themes of judgment and forgiveness and love in the face of violence. As a fan and publicist for this book, I'm interested to see what parallels are drawn between the two.