Monday, June 30, 2008

Book Review: The Shack

Book Review: The Shack by William P. Young,

"And all I wanted was a God who will just fix everything so no one gets hurt." -Mac, p. 146.

The Shack is a difficult book to review for several reasons. First of all, it does not fit easily into one genre but instead overlaps several ones. Secondly, this book impacted me powerfully on an emotional level that is not always rational and easy to describe. And lastly, I don't want to take anything away from your reading of it by telling too much of the story - much of the appeal of the book is that you are not sure what is going to happen . . and why. So if you are like me, and want to be surprised, don't bother reading the rest of this review. Just take my word for it that this is an absolutely amazing book, "a game changer," an emotional rollercoaster ride of intensely deep life questions, theology, and brutal honesty. Just go buy it and enjoy. I rate it 4.9 out of 5 ninja stars.

If you are still reading this . . . let me say a bit more though I will be purposely vague. This book is first of all fiction, the story of a man named Mac who's life is changed forever when his youngest daughter is abducted during a family camping trip. The evidence that she may have been savagely murdered is found in an old abandoned shack deep in the wilderness and Mac's world is shattered. Four years later as he struggles he receives a note in his mailbox, (apparently from God), inviting him to come meet Him back at the shack. Who wrote the note? Mac eventually find's out as he returns to the shack and is confronted by nightmares, hope, and answers for his questions.

The book is allegorical (much like Pilgrim's Progress) and deep. It explores some of the toughest questions about God, his love, and the reality of human suffering. For me, I was most impressed by how it handles the understanding of God's affection for Himself and for his creation in a sin-stained world. The Shack presents a powerful story about a God who personifies relationship and is concerned more with relationship then performance. This book is special not because it is written by a master writer (Williams is still developing) but because it manages to hit the reader hard both emotionally and intellectually. I cried like a baby many times reading this book and felt closer to God then I have in a long time. On the other hand, my understanding of God was also challenged and expanded in new ways as well. I didn't agree with all the theology written in it but if you can get past that, you will get something out of this book. I would really like to read it again with a group of people and process it together - slowly. This would be a really good book club or small group read for those who want to deep. I can't recommend it enough. It is an instant classic, the kind of book you will want to buy for your friends because you love them.

P.S. When I checked on Amazon this morning, The Shack was number 9 on the bestseller list.


Anonymous said...

My pastor has started a sermon series based on this book. I still haven't read it but I really really want to! Maybe I'll head to the bookstore today...

Love Michele

Anonymous said...

I agree its a hard book to review. I gave it a lengthy review at

I was moved to tears several times also. I'm beginning my 2nd read.

Like you I didn't agree 100% but wow what a moving story.

I bought 5

Anonymous said...

I read it last Christmas, and actually was more engrossed in the first half of the book; then when it changed and I didn't know if it was a dream or what.. I sort of lost interest. It was just too weird for me. But I am planning to reread..