William P. Young
When Mackenzie Philips took his children camping, his youngest daughter, Missy, was kidnapped. Later evidence shows she was probably murdered brutally in an abandoned shack in the wilderness beyond the campground. Four years later he, his wife, and other children are still deeply affected by Missy's disappearance. Mack is especially depressed, what he calls his Great Sadness, feeling he hadn't done enough to protect his daughter. He questions God, wanting to know how this could have happened.
Then Mack receives a note. It is an invitation to return to the shack where Missy's dress was found. It is a chance for him to learn what happened to his daughter. It is also a chance for him to learn why these types of things happens and to learn more about himself. Even though he knows it will be difficult, Mack decides to go up to the shack.
The Shack attempts to answer the question of where God is when all the world is filled with suffering and evil. William P. Young has done an excellent job of answering that question. He goes beyond the argument of man's free will or the time scale of eternity. His characters tackle the current, relevant questions.
Not only does he deal with the relevant questions of God's reaction to the day to day evils of our society and world, but also does an excellent job of reconciling the Christian trinity of God - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Young brings their coexistence and importance together in a way that's easy to understand and grasp. I appreciated this new angle of Their relationship.
The Shack is not long (about 250 pages) and easy to read. Although the scenes are visually blunted, emotions aren't blunted at all. Mack is dealing with very hard, very real human issues. Mack cries out to know "why". Missy doesn't suddenly reappear alive by the end of the book. Yet the peace he finds is real and understandable.
The concepts presented aren't always easy to understand immediately. Young doesn't get deeply philosophical, though, and keeps explaining from different angles.
Mack is a realistic character. All of us have been where he is to some degree or another, and it is easy to emphasize with him. Yes, this is Christian fiction, which some readers will find to be a drawback. It is also a book that can reach out to everyone, Christian or not, to help tackle that question of why we have pain in our world and where is God in all of it.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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