by William P. Young
It's hard for a book that's been on the New York Times' bestseller list for weeks and weeks to really live up to its hype. Add in a bunch of talk about how controversial this novel is, and it gets REALLY tough to go into reading it with an open mind and not expecting too much. I think that may have been one of my problems with this novel...
The Shack is about a man named Mack whose daughter is abducted and murdered while him and some of his other children are camping. Mack gets lost in the grief of losing his daughter, enters into what he calls "The Great Sadness", and quits having a relationship with God. One day, Mack gets a letter in the mail with no post mark. It simply tells him that it's been too long and he should come to the shack (where his daughter's bloody dress was found). It is signed from "Papa" which is Mack's wife's name for God. She has a very personal relationship with God and therefore feels close enough to call him "Papa" rather than God or Father.
Mack figures it's either a cruel joke, the killer trying to get him, or may it really is God. So, his wife and kids head out of town (not knowing Mack's plans) and Mack heads up to the shack. God is up there to meet him and He appears to Mack as a black woman, while Jesus is a homely looking Jewish man, and the Holy Spirit, Sarayu, is a small Asian woman. Mack spend the weekend with God (all three parts) and learns a lot about the relationship you should have with God, what God wants from us, what His plan is, and how to live your life with God's intentions in mind. Once he gets home, few people believe him but, of course, he's a changed man.
Now, the first and probably biggest controversy surrounding this book is the whole "God is a black woman" thing. Well, really, God is just showing himself as a black woman. He even says in the book that he's neither man nor woman, black nor white, etc. Also in the Bible, it says that God may show himself to you whenever, and as whoever or whatever, he pleases. On top of that, this is a work of fiction, so it's not like there aren't crazier things out there written! So I could get past the weirdness of things like that. What I couldn't really get past was the cheesy dialogue. The writing just wasn't GOOD* or engaging really. And that's what I think really got me disliking this book. I understand that it could have a pretty good message within it, and that it could really help some people going through a tough time after losing someone, but I just like my books to be well written on top of having a good message.
Overall, 5.5 out of 10 stars. I wouldn't read it again and I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone personally, but some people may get some good out of it...just not really me.
*Yes, I know that Stephenie Meyer's writing isn't GOOD either, but I didn't really expect a teenage vampire romance book to have good writing on top of all the drama...but a book about someone meeting God and talking with Him all weekend?? I just expected more.