This blog is going to be difficult for me to write, mostly because of the controversial nature of the book. What book? The Shackhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=Bibliograph07-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0964729245&fc1=F3EDED&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=040404&f=ifr by William Paul Young. The story is about a man whose young daughter is kidnapped on a family trip and is never found. For three years he exists in misery, unable to conquer his feelings of despair and blaming and hating God for the tragedy. One winter day, he receives a note from God asking him to return to “the shack” where evidence of his daughter’s murder was found. There, he meets God in three persons, face-to-face, and spends a weekend in intimate conversation with Him.
I think that I will separate this blog into two sections, which I mostly do anyway, but I’m making it official by labeling it this time.
First, things I enjoyed about the book:
A) It’s a good concept, and a good story. The first part especially is well written and gripping. Before the kidnapping, the reader is aware of what’s going to happen and is waiting on the edge of his/her seat until it does happen. After the kidnapping, the emotion of the search and ensuing discovery are terribly moving.
B) I genuinely felt for the characters. The human characters are sympathetic and easy to love, and the God characters are warm and inviting, loving and compassionate. They really draw the reader in.
C) Some of the wisdom imparted is comforting. It’s put in terms that are easy to understand, and a great many of the issues that bug me about Christianity are addressed and seemingly put to rest. I really liked that he addresses many questions (with good answers) like “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and “If God loves me, why does he let me suffer?” He also sifts through all of the religious conventions and traditions that we humans have built to cage God, and gets to what I believe is at the heart of what it means to follow Christ. His passages about love and forgiveness are especially touching.
This makes for a good transition into the things I don’t like.
A) Most important! This book is written by a MAN!. I’m sure he has studied the Bible and theology in great depth. I don’t know his credentials, but I assume that he has done a lot of research. But it bugs me that people treat this like it is from God’s own mouth. Now I know that people can write inspiring things, and that God sometimes inspires people to write amazing things. But this is not a new treatise on Christianity. This is not another book of the Bible. And people are sometimes treating it as such. Remember when reading this: it may inspire you to have a closer, more intimate relationship with God, but the words spoken by “God” in this novel are not the Word of God. Let us remember that it was written by a man, just as sinful and fallen as the rest of us.
B) Exclamation points!!!!!! He uses entirely too many of them.
C) Much of the writing in the first part is good. And his descriptions are detailed and beautiful. When the narrator speaks, I feel that the quality of writing is very high. However, the dialogue is frustratingly cheesy, especially when he is talking to God. I can’t decide if it’s because much of it is cliche, a lot of it is happy-go-lucky, or if, as I mentioned earlier, it’s merely the overuse of exclamation points that irritates me. Whatever it is, if you read it, I’m sure you’ll notice it too. It’s not dialogue that sounds natural, but forced and fictional.
I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed in the novel. Though I agreed with a lot of what was written, I did not have the “life-changing” experience that many say they had when they read the book. While it was a good story and there is a lot of wisdom in it, it does not live up to the hype. Then again, I’m judging this book from the perspective of an English major. In the grand scheme of things, does it matter that this is not a great work of literature? Not really.