Posted in Books

The Shack:Book Review

The Shack was written by a father for his children, to help them understand his relationship with God. William P. Young explains that he never intended to write a book, but that this story became the means of communicating the real conversations he had with God and with friends and family over several years. Though the story is fictional, it seems pretty clear that Young’s claim that the conversations were “all real, all true” is a claim that the words of God found in this book are true. Now, any work which claims to record divine speech needs to be read carefully and critically. Claims to speak for God must be treated with utmost seriousness.

Nothing makes us so lonely as our secrets – Paul Tournier

In this novel, the protagonist, Mackenzie Allen Phillips, receives an invitation from God to meet Him at a shack in the woods. It takes Mack a little while to decide to keep the appointment, but his curiosity and his pain eventually convince him to make the trip. When he arrives at the shack, the whole environment is transformed into an idealistic setting by the presence of God. Mack, too, undergoes a remarkable transformation,  although that change takes longer to accomplish. Four years earlier, Mack’s youngest daughter, Missy, had been kidnapped during a family outing. Her body had never been found, but the evidence pointed toward her murder at this abandoned shack in the Oregon wilderness at the hands of a serial pedophile. Mack had identified Missy’s bloody dress, found on the floor in front of the fireplace in the shack. As would be expected, these years had been difficult for Mack and the rest of the family, a period he describes as “The Great Sadness.” But, after spending a couple of days at the shack with God, Mack returns home a changed man. Through a series of conversations with God, he begins to understand how God’s love provides the basis of forgiveness and the power to change human lives. The trans formative power of redemption through forgiveness is the theme of the book; where tragedy confronts eternity.

It is an engaging story, even though it is very predictable. The horrific nightmare this family experienced is every parent’s worst fear and thus the story connects with the reader at a deep level. The author effectively uses word pictures, characterization, and plot development to probe deeply into the emotional recesses of the reader’s soul. The conversational tone draws the reader into the story, encouraging him or her to experience vicariously Mack’s spiritual transformation. The story stresses God’s love for His children, emphasizes human freedom as the cause of sin and evil, focuses on forgiveness and reconciliation as the solution to sin and evil, judgments, relationships, miracles of Jesus, stresses the hope of eternal life in God’s presence in a new creation, and encourages the reader to interact with the human characters and God in a deeply meaningful way. But the author’s portrayal of God is confusing at best and untrue at worst. Emotional appeal is missing. Portrayal of God is confusing in between. For instance, Jesus had no power within himself to heal anyone.

You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same you can carry them with you in your heart, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you – Frederick Buechnner.

 

The quotes used in this post are from the book. While reading this book, I also came across very beautiful poem which I feel worth sharing.

Breathe in me…. Deep

That I might breath…. And live

And hold me close I might sleep

Soft held by all you give

 

Come kiss me, wind, and take my breathe

Till you and I are one

And we will dance among the tombs

Untill all death is gone

 

And no one knows that we exist

Wrapped in each other’s arm

Except the One who blew the breath

That hides me safe from harm

 

Come kiss me wind, take my breathe

Till you and I are one

And we will dance among the tombs

Untill all death is gone.

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6 thoughts on “The Shack:Book Review

  1. That is an excellent review. You have analysed the book objectively in the face of the intense family trauma, the backbone to the story. You have quoted a refreshing poem from the book that has formed a beautiful end to your piece.

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