Monday, November 30, 2009

Relative Reads Review - The Shack by William Paul Young

I was given the great fortune of growing up in a family of readers. Both of my parents read, and so do the majority of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. In fact, my Great-Grandma had cataract surgery in her 90's, because she couldn't bear to not be able to read. I thought it would be interesting to read some of the books THEY have discovered and enjoyed over the years, so I asked them to send me some recommendations, and the fun began! I have a list of the titles various family members have suggested on the side of the blog, so if you want to see what will be coming up you can take a peek.

The Shack by William Paul Young (recommended by Aunt Leah)
published 2007
248 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant "The Shack" wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?"

My thoughts:

I was looking forward to reading this book for two reasons - my aunt Leah recommended it, and she has great taste in books; and because there has been A LOT of varying opinions about it floating around, so I was interested to see what I would think.

I guess I was a little underwhelmed. I found it to be neither sacrilegious nor life-changing (both words I'd seen used to describe this book). Much of the theology presented in the book was quite similar to what I personally believe. I found passages that made me cheer with agreement:

"We want males and females to be counterparts, face-to-face equals, each unique and different, distinctive in gender but complementary, and each empowered uniquely...I am not about performance and fitting into man-made structures; I am about being."

and passages that made me cringe in recognition:

" have judged many throughout your life. You have judged the actions and even the motivations of others, as if you somehow knew what those were in truth. You have judged the color of skin and body language and body odor. You have judged history and relationships. You have even judged the value of a person's life by the quality of your concept of beauty. By all accounts, you are well-practiced in the activity."

I was frustrated by the writing, which often just seemed clunky, and should have been cleaned up by a good editor. I didn't really care that much for the initial story, which seemed a lot like the backstory to an episode of Law & Order: SVU. But there were moments I found quite powerful and beautiful.

I think it's an interesting read. I understand why some people would consider it life-altering. I don't exactly get the charges of heresy, but in general I think those types of accusations are usually overblown. I think this probably is the very book that somebody needs, and I hope that person finds this book.

Finished: 10/23/09
Source: loan from my mom
Rating: 7/10

Don't just take my word for it! Here's what some other fabulous bloggers had to say:

Dreadlock Girl

She is too fond of books
Devourer of Books


Caitie F said...

This kind of book isn't really my thing, but I tried it and liked it more than I thought I would. I got to meet the author and hear his story - since I did I guess I feel like I "got" it more. I agree with you on the writing but I think there might have been a reason that they didn't edit as thoroughly to keep the original voice that some people seem to connect to so well

bermudaonion said...

I'm sure this one makes for great conversation since people seem to have such strong opinions about the book.

Zibilee said...

I, too, have heard a lot about this book but have not yet read it. My church library has a copy that seems to be borrowed a lot, but I haven't yet decided if this is the book for me or not. Great review on this one. I think I need to take a closer look.

Anonymous said...

My Mom gave me this and I loaned it to a friend before I read it. The friend says she's close to getting it back to me (8 months later). Like you I'm curious to see what I think of it after I've read so many opinions. Great review!

Jenners said...

I got a copy of this simply because people seemed so gaga over it and it seemed like such a big deal. Based on your thoughts though, I don't think I'll rush to read it. However, it is nice that the author's name begins with Y for the A To Z Reading Challenge! HAHA!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Isn't it nice to have a family of readers who recommend (and lend) books to you?!

The passages you quoted were some of the strongest in the book (in my opinion). It's true, like most books, what speaks to one person may be different from what another connects to.

Your review is honest and fair; I thought the initial set-up was clunky, too (Law and Order SVU - haha!)

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

And I meant to add ... Thanks for the link to my review of THE SHACK!