Friday, May 14, 2010

The Shack- A (very) Belated Review

Why, you ask, am I writing a review on The Shack, a book that was published three years ago? Well, I happened to read it last week, that's why. The Shack, written by Canadian novelist William P. Young, has also had the happy distinction of being on the New York Times' Bestseller List, which, I understand, is a list every author should get into to Make It Big.
Anyway, I don't really like reading books when there's too much of a furor over them. I like reading books quietly in my little corner, without feeling like I was pressured into reading it because the whole population was calling it "the best book evaaa!"
I enjoy discovering books on my own and conceiving my own highly original thoughts about them. So when everybody I knew was raving about the Shack, I decided to save it for later, when all the hue and cry had died down. Call it perversity if you like. But two reasons drove the book into my arms this week.
For one thing, the hue and cry had died down, leaving The Shack as one of the staples of 21st century Christian fiction. For another, I was ambling round my library, when the my little eye spied the book smack dab in front of me. I picked it up.
And started reading.
My thoughts? You SHOULD read this book.  I knew when I started crying at page three that it was going to be good. Mackenzie Allen Philips, or Mack as he is known to friends and family is your average nice Christian guy with a love for the outdoors. But Mack's life does not resemble home-backed apple pie, sweet and wholesome. He is under the Great Sadness, a result of the horrifying murder of his six-year-old daughter Missy at the hands of a serial killer four years ago. One stormy morning he gets a note from God, requesting him to meet at the very same shack that his daughter's remains were found.
Well if that doesn't have you intrigued, then I don't know what will. Does Mack find God? And what is God like?
Unfortunately if I answer those questions I will be spoiling the fun for you. Which is why I suggest you read it for yourselves. Cough.

One of the many things I like about the book was that I identified very well with Mack. I look nothing like him by the way ( he is described as a "rather unremarkable, slightly balding overweight short white guy") and I don't share any of his outdoorsy interests, but his questions were my questions. He's not afraid to ask God why his sweet daughter had to undergo such torture, why God even allowed such things to take place, when He had the power of preventing them.

I found the book very insightful and it prodded me to think of my own relationship with God. One of the points made in the book is that humans are made to be creatures of the present, but spend most of their time thinking either about the past or the future. Which is rather a waste of valuable time.

What I really liked about the book was that it drew me closer to God. After I'd read it, I realised that I wanted to be in communion with God every minute of the day and not some hours during the morning or evening. I want to be in a growing relationship with God, with each new day revealing another facet of His extraordinary beauty.

So that's why I like The Shack. While I don't think God as described in the Shack is how God is going to be when we see Him ( no one living knows that), I love how the book inspired me to want to know God more. And that's what I believe good Christian books should do. They should point out the way and inspire, but they should never stand as authorities in themselves.

A little caveat: Bad language was used twice in the book. I understand that the author wanted to make it feel as "real" as possible, but I was not prepared for swear words in a Christian novel, and my personal stance is that Christian novels shouldn't contain them at all. Find more creative ways of expressing anger and/or pain.

And I know this is a horrifically long post, but I just wanted to add that the author, William P. Young was raised among a tribal people in New Guinea and has had a variety of fascinating jobs. You can read more about his life here.

Until the next review ( which hopefully, will not be as long ;))

The Official Website for The Shack
Windblown Media- Christian publishers of The Shack

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