Book Review: "The Shack" by William Paul Young

Title: The Shack

Author: William Paul Young

Category: Fiction

I bought this novel in October 2008, and I finally finished reading it in July 2010. It took me almost two years to finish reading the book because I was busy with work and other things. I only managed to read the first few chapters in the first year.

But in the second year, I began to pick up from where I left and followed the story of how the main character of the novel, Mackenzie Allen Phillips, decided to take the step of faith to revisit his painful past, hoping to find answers from God about why his youngest daughter, Missy, was kidnapped and brutally murdered a few years ago. Led by a mysterious note which Mackenzie received in his mailbox, he took a long trip to an abandoned shack where his daughter was supposedly found dead.

There, he entered into a different world, where he encountered God personally, who ministered grace and healing to his wounded heart and helped him understand that even though he lived in an imperfect world, he could still trust God to work all things together for good to His beloved children. By the time I reached the end of the novel, I was blessed and refreshed by the knowledge of God’s love and goodness working in and through each of us, to make the world a better place for everyone.

How the story relates to the gospel

The message of the story reveals that God wants to have a relationship with us; He is not after religion or rituals – “it is all about relationships of love and respect”. It explores the importance of forgiveness – “Forgiveness is first for you, the forgiver, to release you from something that will eat you alive; that will destroy your joy and your ability to love fully and openly.” Last but not least, the story doesn’t attempt to provide answers to every mystery in the universe; instead, it invites us to question God and trust Him to speak to us in a way we can understand, as aptly described in these words: “Why do children love to hide and seek? Ask any person who has a passion to explore and discover and create. The choice to hide so many wonders from you is an act of love that is a gift inside the process of life.”

“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:1)

Reviewed by Jimmy Tan

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