Review: “The Shack” by William Paul Young

The Shack by William Paul Young. Windblown Media. 248 pages.

I read The Shack because it was out in movie form and my wife had read it. She wanted to see the movie and wanted me to read it before we went. We never ended up going to see the movie–we plan on seeing it in video now–but I did read the book. I didn’t have very high expectations. When all you hear about is how much people cried when they read it, well, that’s generally not something that appeals to me.

But I was pleasantly surprised. The Shack is the story of one Mackenzie Phillips and his family who live in (I think) the Seattle area. His family undergoes a terrible tragedy, which completely destroys his faith in God. He returns to The Shack, the place where the terrible event occurs, and ends up spending the weekend alone with God as the Trinity: God as Pappa (who is actually a black woman), the Holy Spirit as Sarayu, a young Japanese woman, and Jesus, a young man.

The book is well written, the characters are tight and well drawn out, and the story keeps your interest. There’s humor and there’s tragedy, of course. And I will have to admit that tears came to my eyes at least once while I was reading it. If you’re a Christian, you really need to read it. That’s the good part of it.

Now the criticisms. If you spent the weekend with the Godhead, I would assume that you would have lots of questions, and Mack obviously does here too. But some of them are pretty heady, philosophical questions about the nature of God that I think lose the reader. They are questions that only a few would be interested in, and I found myself wanting to skip forward when the discussion went in that direction.

One other minor observation. At the very end, the author adds a twist in the plot–something that happens to Mack–that is totally unexpected. But I don’t think it adds to the story in any way, and I wonder why it was included, other than just to throw a surprise in there.

In any case, the story is a good one, has a very good message and is highly recommended.

I give it four stars out of five.