Monday, August 11, 2008

Book Review: The Shack

I approach every book I read as a writer, and there are a lot of rules when you write fiction--if you believe in rules.

The Shack breaks the rules, but it’s a magnificent read by a self-proclaimed “accidental author.” At times I didn’t want to put it down. At other times I didn’t want to pick it up. At times it was too much for me---a completely different way of looking at life. At other times my heart nodded with the truth God, in His beautiful grace, had already shown me. Encounters we’d already had. Loving visitations, heart to heart.

As a writer, I’d heard about this book from other readers. Actually, a 30-year veteran editor was the first to bring this book to my attention. She spoke of how it was a best-seller and self-published (though Hachette Book Group is getting involved now and helping spread the influence of this book). I later learned the story was too controversial for Christian publishers and too “Christian” for secular ones. I tend to steer clear of things controversial, and I resist getting swept up into the latest wave the culture is riding. But, when a dear and trusted friend, (the faithful, Jesus-loving keyboard player for our worship team at church) recommended the book (a friend, the best source of word of mouth marketing) I couldn’t justify my resistance as well.

What I found was wondrous. Impacting. Life changing. The epitome of using darkness to magnify God’s light. Of using the contrast of hatred and evil to show God’s goodness and amazing, life-giving love. I found a God encounter like I wouldn’t have anticipated and couldn’t have written.

Warning: this book isn’t for the faint of heart—both because it goes places in God you’ve never imagined and because it deals with tough subject matter—abusive fathers and the heart of a serial killer. There are words in this book, phrases which traditional Christian publishers have excluded from their books. But the wording fits the characters and is not used just for the sake of “spicing things up.”

If you’re willing, this book can bring amazing nuggets into you world. And you can leave this story wanting more of a relationship (or in your relationship) with Jesus, with God the Father and with the Holy Spirit. Wanting communion. Wanting love. Wanting freedom and having the means to get there. Wanting to forgive someone who hurt you and perhaps finally having the tools in God to do it. I found a friend in the midst of my own sorrows. I found freedom is waiting for me in love and trust. I’m glad I took the plunge and read The Shack. I hope you will, too.

If you’ve read it, leave a comment. What’d you think? What was your biggest takeaway? Mine? That whole expectation thing. I’m learning to live in expectancy in my relationship with God, not expectation. If you’ve read the book, you’ll know what I mean. What was your biggest a-ha?

5 comments:

Dawn said...

Annette,
Thanks for a wonderful and honest review of this book. I've also hesitated picking up this book, but now I can't wait to read it. We need more books that challenge and inspire us - and that bring us closer into relationship with our God.

Annette M. Irby said...

Just last night, I took part in the word of mouth marketing that has made this book so popular. As I was purchasing a copy for my husband, I mentioned it to the cashier at the store. "Have you read this book?" No, she hadn't. "What's it about?" So I shared the plot a bit with her and especially how God meets with the character. She seemed interested.

And Dawn, I'm with you. I held back for so long. But when I finally read it, wow! Can't wait to hear your comments once you've read it.

Anyone else?

Anonymous said...

There were a lot of nuggets, but my biggest takeaway is that God will meet us at the source of our deepest pain. And is waiting to meet us there.

David said...

Your words are so true. The Shack opens up new depth to God and Holy Trinity. It has helped me develop a great wonder for the significance of our relationship with God and others. I've always felt that we as humans can't know the level of love God has for us and this book brings that through in striking clarity. Also, if you haven't done so, listen to the audio version as well. It opens the story up on a greater level and it's even cheaper than the book!

tracysbooknook.com said...

I have to say that "The Shack" by William P. Young was a very thought provoking read.

After reading the book, I was left pondering several things about it – which is a true testament to the book's worth. I had several questions on the validity of some of the descriptions of God but I had to humbly admit that there may be no answers this side of heaven for how God presents Himself to each individual.

I posted a more in-depth review of this book on my own blog www.tracysbooknook.com.

-Tracy