Saturday, 12 March 2011

Review: The Shack by William Paul Young

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About the Book

Whilst on a camping trip to Wallowa Lake in the wilderness of Oregon, Missy the youngest daughter of Mackenzie Allen Philips is abducted. With the discovery of an abandoned Shack, evidence suggests that she may have been brutally murdered.

Four years on in the midst of Mack's pain and suffering (The Great Sadness), he receives a suspicious note apparently from God, inviting him back to the Shack for a weekend. Mack is convinced that there are three plausible explanations to the note; it could be a cruel joke, even something sinister from Missy's killer and as absurd as it might seem, an invitation from God! Unable to dismiss the note and desperate for answers, Mack returns to the Shack and what he finds, changes Mack's life for ever.


Author William P Young wanted to write a story for his children, to help them understand his relationship with God and never intended writing a book. The central character Mack, is introduced to the reader by his friend Willie. Willie is the one to tell Mack's story. I was totally absorbed in the story, so much so that at times it was easy to forget that it was a work of fiction.

The Shack evokes many emotions which include love and hope as well as sadness and despair. A parents worst fear would be the loss of a child and William Young having experienced personal family loss, is able to express such heart wrenching emotion in his writing. The effect is that realism is mixed with narrative.

Mack meets with God at the Shack and in a world filled with pain, suffering and injustice, the question of "where is God" is answered for Mack. It is important however, that the dialogue that transpires shouldn't be read as theological fact. Some readers might also struggle with the author's depiction of God appearing to Mack as a Black African-American woman.

However, I found The Shack thought provoking and it challenges the reader to examine their own views on the concepts presented and on our own relationship with God. I am therefore giving this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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