Review: The Shack (rated 4 stars)
by William P. Young
“The love shack… it’s a little old place where we can get together…”
With refrains of that song in my head, I would have to say that love is what The Shack is about. Many have billed the short story as a modern day Pilgrim’s Progress. I don’t know how “classic” this book will become (after all, Bunyan’s work was published in 1678 and remains eminently readable and inspirational); however, I’ll confess that the story drew me in.
Jeremy and I read it on the way back from Glorieta. Well, I read it to Jeremy as he drove. We got about a quarter way into before my voice gave out. I’ve finished it since then, and he has picked up where I left off.
The book is about a husband and father who has experienced incredible pain, disillusionment and loss in his life. Author William Young does a masterful job at engaging you in his life and emotions. The story culminates as he makes his way to an abandoned shack deep in the mountains to face his past, and possibly his future.
Once there, the man has a dramatic and playful encounter with God, who appears to him in a surprising form (or should I say forms?) This is where the meat and message of the story takes place. The author essentially uses the man’s tale to creatively communicate his beliefs about God and man and their relationship with one another.
I think you’ll be surprised at just how much theology can be joyful as you read Young’s book. He does a wonderful job at bringing some deep discussions to life. I would guess that most Christians do not ever think deeply about some of the issues he has his protagonist wrestle with.
Therein lies a caution of this book as well. It reminded me a little of the Left Behind series in that it promotes some rather interesting interpretations of theology. For the most part, I wasn’t too bothered by it, but I would simply encourage the reader to compare what he’s reading with scripture.
Otherwise, I was also a little put off by how the author uses the bulk of the book to share his view about God and man. Though it’s really a good read, the larger narrative is not intertwined much in the middle of the book. It’s rather pieced together like this: narrative — spiritualized theology — narrative.
I’ll give Young credit. He has some remarkably powerful and poignant insights into the love of God. You will enjoy God and your relationship more after you see what “could be.”
Overall, it’s a compelling read if you’re prepared for the not-to-hidden agenda and personal theology of the author throughout.