Book: The Shack
Author: William P. Young
Reason for Reading: book club
Christine's Review: Mackenzie Phillips is on a vacation with his children when his youngest daughter is kidnapped by a sexual predator. When her dress is found in a bloody heap in a remote shack, she is presumed dead. After years of depression (or the Great Sadness as it is referred in the book), Mack receives a note from God inviting him back to the shack.
Unsure if the letter is indeed from God, Mack returns to the shack and finds God (a large black woman who loves to bake and make jokes, imagine Aunt Jemima and Paula Dean rolled into one), Jesus (a nice middle eastern guy) and Sarayu (the holy spirit, a small, Asian woman). Mack stays the weekend and by the end of the book he is lifted out of the great sadness.
This book has a great premise but falls short in the delivery. I was expecting a book about a grieving father who learns to cope with his tragedy but instead I found a poorly written, disjointed book on theology disguised as fiction. The theology aspects of this book did not bother me. It takes a very different slant from the bible and current traditional Christian beliefs about the trinity (very 'new age-y'): God does not judge anyone so we shouldn't judge anyone, God does not punish sin, God loves everyone, forgiveness, etc. etc.). However, if I want to read a book on theology, I would rather read something well written with interesting dialogue (like the Bible).
The overall problem with The Shack is the poor quality of the writing. I am someone who devours books in one sitting and it took me a week to read this (it isn't even 300 pages). The concept of a child being abducted and murdered should be a huge pull to reel a reader in and Young left me cold. I kept trying to become interested in Mack and his struggles but couldn't get there. The 'non-God' sections seemed rushed. Most of the book read like it was written by a high school-er with a target audience of a child. In fact-after reading it I researched the author to check his age because I couldn't imagine an adult writing something like this (I've read romance novels that were more compelling). Indeed, the author did write this book for his children (without the intention of it being published) however that does not excuse the poor execution.
Similar to 'The Pillars of the Earth' this book has generated a lot of positive buzz. I suspect people love Pillars since it is the longest book they have read and I suspect many love 'The Shack' because it displays such a loving, nonjudgmental God. Personally, 'The Shack' was not my cup of tea.
Book Junkie's Grade: D