The Shack: A book review

I just finished reading The Shack by W. Paul Young, and although I found the book thought-provoking and deep at times, at others, I thought the book dragged on to a disappointing degree.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as I’d heard that this book was good but not really what it was about. That said, I’m glad I only listened to it via my iPod, as I think, had I been physically reading it, I might have gotten tired of it, put it down and not picked it up again. 

This novel centers around a man, Mackenzie Allen Phillips, whose daughter, Missy, was abducted while the family camped in Oregon. It appears that the daughter has been brutally murdered by a serial killer who targets young girls, and the girls are never found again. This plunges Mack into a long depression he dubs “The Great Sadness”. When he receives a note in his mailbox three years later from “Papa”, the name which his wife has for God, asking Mack to meet Him at the shack (the scene of Missy’s abduction) Mack reluctantly heads out to meet God for the weekend. Not knowing what to expect, possibly that this is a trick of the killer or a cruel joke, Mack travels to the shack while the rest of his family goes on a weekend away. There, he meets God and is transformed by the experience.

Young’s writing was eloquent and the plot well developed. I could believe the progression of Mack as he went from angry at God to forgiving God (and others), and, although the book was a bit predictable, it was refreshingly so. My issue was the tediousness that began to develop for me towards the end of the novel. In fact, it became so--forgive me--boring, that I had to put the book (iPod) away for several days and come back to it later. I’m not sure why I felt this way, other than that the “theology” of the book got a bit repetitive and dragged on for too long. I understood the challenge the author faced in not being cliché in converting Mack to his belief in God, and not jumping into this faith with both feet after being so hurt. I was glad that Young did not prematurely wrap up the ending, and took his time in “converting” Mack. However, there came a point in the novel where I just got bored. It became a chore to listen to the book, and I couldn’t finish it at that time.

Overall, the book was an interesting read, and thought-provoking at times, but not a book I would reread or buy.