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142 of 159 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I fully intended to dislike this book, but found myself loving it.
I am one of the people who dislikes religious organisations, rarely goes to church, and have been unsure where a loving God fits into the dreadful things that go on in the world. I picked up this book by mistake, and read it with the intention of writing a harsh review advising others to save their money. It turns out that I was wrong. This is a very readable book, which...
Published on March 21 2008 by Neko

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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not too Bad, Not Life Changing
The Shack is clearly an influential book, and judging by its prodigious sales a lot of people are reading it. As well I noticed that it has (especially in Canada) received a lot of controversial reviews. There are those who love it, and those who hate it passionately. It seems that a lot of this depends on the reader's theology. I would like to critique this view not...
Published on Feb. 11 2009 by Melissa M. Grant


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142 of 159 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I fully intended to dislike this book, but found myself loving it., March 21 2008
By 
Neko (Ottawa, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Shack (Paperback)
I am one of the people who dislikes religious organisations, rarely goes to church, and have been unsure where a loving God fits into the dreadful things that go on in the world. I picked up this book by mistake, and read it with the intention of writing a harsh review advising others to save their money. It turns out that I was wrong. This is a very readable book, which addresses questions such as "Why did God let this happen?" and "Does God really have an interest in what goes on in the world?" without being preachy or pious. I was delighted by the humour contained within the pages, which made the sadness in the story bearable. Buy a copy for yourself and a friend! I'm not going to tell you what happens - you'll have to read it yourself.
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not too Bad, Not Life Changing, Feb. 11 2009
By 
Melissa M. Grant (Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Shack (Paperback)
The Shack is clearly an influential book, and judging by its prodigious sales a lot of people are reading it. As well I noticed that it has (especially in Canada) received a lot of controversial reviews. There are those who love it, and those who hate it passionately. It seems that a lot of this depends on the reader's theology. I would like to critique this view not based on its theology, but on its inspirational value as a work of fiction

First I would like to start by arguing that this is a work of fiction and that fiction is not the same as nonfiction theology (which some reviews seem to claim). The purpose of a nonfiction theological work is to teach through instruction and argument. Fiction, such as The Shack, however is meant to inspire the imagination through the use of vivid and attention-grabbing tales; fiction strives to rouse our emotions and this allows us to consider issues in a different way. For this reason- and I hope this is already clear- The Shack is not a conclusive theological thesis, but a pointer towards a new way of thinking which can then be either validated or invalidated by looking more into the thoughts and feelings we derive from reading it. It is like listening to Silent Night on Christmas Eve as opposed to listening to a university theology lecture. It is what it is. What is important about this book is how it makes us feel and think.

It is within this context that I would like review The Shack. I do not really care whether it mirrors my theology or not, I care about how the book was written and whether it evokes emotion and personal reflection. Now, I have set up very subjective criteria for whether or not I consider this book a success, but I think this is necessary to give the book justice and not simply argue against it based on my theological preference.

I have to admit, for me, this book was not that compelling. Perhaps it was the hype that came with it (read some of the 5 star reviews!), but when I resolved to read this book, I was anticipating the most revolutionary book I had ever read. It was given to me because my best friend had just died in a car accident. I was in desperate need of comfort as I tried to make some sort of sense of the circumstances. Perhaps it was due to these lofty expectations that this book did not come through. I thought that the prose seemed cliché and the writing felt superficial. I did not feel compelled by many sequences of dialogue. In all honesty I had some difficulty sympathizing with Mac, and given his circumstances, this should not have been the case. There were certain touchtones within the book (I liked his image of God as an African American woman, since this is as likely as the traditional conceptualization of God as the wise old white man) and I loved how he conceptualized Mac's pain, calling it the "deep sadness". For me, however, this book did not sufficiently answer the problem of pain (which I think is a rational as well as emotional problem we all must deal with), and it did not especially help me with my pain that much. In fact, as I struggled with my loss, it was through a plethora of other books by authors such as CS Lewis, Harold Kushner, and Paul Tillich that I found peace.

I liked the idea of the story, and the book had some touchtones within, but as a life changing work of fiction, this book did not do it for me. For this reason I give it 3 stars.
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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Allegory, May 2 2008
By 
Peter Cantelon (Morden, Manitoba, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Shack (Paperback)
The book tells the story of one man's intense tragedy, years of ensuing "great sadness" and his meeting with God one day which leads to some profound changes in his life spiritually and emotionally. It is a story profound compassion, forgiveness and healing that also manages to weave some pretty deep theology into the mix.

Eugene Peterson, the translator of The Message paraphrase of the Bible as well as the author of several books on pastoral theology says "This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his. It's that good!"

Like Pilgrim's Progress, The Shack is heavy on matephorical/allegorical imagery. This is a book I would call an exercise in stretching. Whether you perceive yourself as conservative or liberal, orthodox or unorthodox, modern or post-modern, evangelical or emergent this book will stretch you at some point in your theology. Sometimes stretching can lead to breaking but with The Shack I think the stretching is actually a good and potentially beneficial exercise.

At its most helpful The Shack offers a refreshing interpretation of the Trinity and what forgiveness and a healing journey with God might look like. At its most controversial (stretching) it offers some strong words about institutionalized religion/Christianity and a strong affirmation of the orthodox understanding of creation.

Scattered with quotes from a variety of people including A.W. Tozer, Dostoevsky, C.S. Lewis and Bruce Cockburn I believe The Shack will become an excellent resource in grief counseling and I highly recommend it - especially for book clubs and/or study groups.
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67 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, you will be impacted for life!, Nov. 4 2007
By 
Deborah Sparrow (Vernon BC, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Shack (Paperback)
I have read and reread The Shack several times and have given over 30 copies away. I laughed and cried my way through this amazing story and although it is fiction it will touch every person who reads it in a unique and special way, depending on their life story. No matter if you belive there is a God or not, there are truths about life in this book that will cause you to examine reactions to life and situations and will give you an overwhelming sense of peace. Every conversation between Mack and his 'friends' needs to be mulled over and examined and amazing things will happen in your life as you let these words bring light to dark areas of your life. Thousands of people all over the world have read it and to each one that has responded, it is unique to them and yet as a whole brings healing and understanding of life events (the ugly ones). You will not be able to NOT share this book with everyone you know, we all have our own 'great sadness' this book addresses each one as if it were written just for you. An absolute must read!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Absolute Must Read!, June 27 2011
By 
Lady Sam (100 Mile House / BC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Shack (Paperback)
A most impressive read and I gladly add my name to previous statements of having learnt a great deal and shed a tear or two. Yes, it is essentially based on Christian beliefs although I believe this predominantly as due to most people being familiar with God, Jesus and the Holy Trinity in the Western world - no more and no less. The understanding, healing and growing of the protagonist goes much further, much deeper, touching every single reader on a spiritual level, no matter their religious affiliation or lack thereof. I dare presume that everybody can learn a thing or two by reading this novel and will be touched on a very deep level.
The storyline itself is based on a man's life with a background of abuse by his drunken father and subsequently running away as a young teenager who suffers the horrendous loss of his youngest daughter at what appears to be a paedophile's hands. He and his family - especially his other daughter - suffer greatly, being caught in what is described as The Great Sadness, from which there appears to be no escape. When the man receives a note, he decides to keep it secret from his family and follow up on it on his own - and the healing and understanding of events begins.
The Shack essentially teaches about love, understanding and forging relationships in order to overcome hardships in life but equally allows for anger at/about a situation and every person working on themselves and through issues in their lives at their own pace. After all, we are all individuals with our own and unique characteristics and experiences in life.
So, please, do read this extremely well written, expressed and involved book and I assure you, you will not be disappointed!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Written. A Worthwhile Read, Sept. 26 2009
By 
B. Breen "Canuckster1127" (Sterling, VA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Shack (Paperback)
The Shack is a book that people appear to love or hate as evidenced by the disparity of reviews. Most are 5 stars and those who give it less appear to invariably give it 1 star. To stand out from the crowd, I've decided to give it 4 stars although I easily could have given it 5 stars.

While the book is written as fiction, it clearly is both a theological and psychological book intended to counsel and direct people toward a more personal relationship with God. Difficult concepts are illustrated in a way that make them easier for the reader to understand. This is the book's strength as well as its weakness. Calvinistic theologians appear to take offense at some of the concepts which is not surprising. Calvinism is more about approaching God intellectually and coming up with an answer for every question you can think of, and then some that you probably wouldn't.

It's evident to me that the author takes care in presenting the pictures and conversations with God and seeks to do so in a manner that is helpful. Clearly, it is impossible to present something, such as the Trinity, in a manner that doesn't fail at different levels. In that sense, I can understand the concerns of those who naysay the book, apparently afraid that refrigerator magnets of a black woman, Jesus and an asian women will appear in kitchens across the nation and possibly even replace Gideon Bibles in motels. The horror! Seriously though, there's good room here from some concerns and cautions to not take the message of this book beyond what I believe the author intended.

More than a theological treatise, the message I took away from this book, is that God is personal, accessible and big enough to stand up to our anger and judgement if we want to bring it to Him along with our pain and accusations. Most of us carry deep wounds in our lives, many inflicted by those we love or whom we trusted. Some from Churches and other Christians. Some, deep down, if we're honest we have to say it is God who perpetrated or allowed these wounds and we're afraid that punishment and pain will come if we dare to voice it. Young's book not only gives permission to bring these concerns but seems to indicate that God is not whom most of us believe Him to be. I think that's a positive thing even if the idea, even in fictional literary license of God being a black woman threatens my theological and cultural sensitivities.

More than anything this book and the reaction by some illustrates the divide between purely rational Christianity, ala Calvinism, and that which thrives on an element of the mystical and relational that I believe is necessary if we're going to see God as He has revealed Himself to us. It's more than a mind thing. God want us to interact with Him as a whole person, mind, emotions and will, or Spirit, Soul and Body if you will. That threatens many. Some retreat to the constructs of systematic theology to comfort themselves and remove the mystery. Some simply run to the emotional experience and exuberance. In between lies an element of Christian Mysticism where there is personal embracing and interaction and a sense of worship, wonder and awe that is heart and soul of what a relationship with God can be, if we're willing to dump the baggage we're carrying.

So 4 stars. Yes you need to consider the theological implications of some of what this book says. But it's worth the read and the effort. This book has the power to touch you deeply if you need it and will let it.

Bart Breen
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it with my mother, very fulfilling, May 4 2009
This review is from: The Shack (Paperback)
I bought this book for my mother, who has lost two children, and a copy for myself to read at the same time as her. My mother is not a reader really, but she read this book in two days, then started it over again. I am not religious by any stretch of the imagination, but read The Shack with an open mind so I could discuss it with Mum afterward. My mother found great comfort in the suggestions in this book that the afterlife is much more normal than we have always been taught. I, too, would love to believe that my brother and sister are in a better place with caring people. I recommend this book to anyone who has lost a family member due to tragic circumstances. It is very peaceful.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected, March 16 2011
This review is from: The Shack (Paperback)
Read this for a book club. Girl who chose the book couldn't say enough about this "awesome" read. Once Mack hit the shack I lost all interest. Flipped through the pages and couldn't believe he was in the shack for the entire book. It was a chore to get through. Even my Mom, who is a devote Christian, found it so far fetched that it ruined the book for her. I was expecting to find this book moving and was very curious to read it. I can't tell you how disappointed I was. I do not understand the great reviews this book has received. Am I missing something???
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I was hopeful..., July 22 2010
This review is from: The Shack (Paperback)
I heard that his book was amazing and I am sorry to say I completely disagree. From the beginning I found "Mack" to be extremely annoying and irritating and found it difficult to connect or sympathize with the character, or any characters for that matter. I thought that the writing style was just awful, boring, seemed fake, I don't know how else to describe it. Seemed very amateur to me, cliche. Regardless of anyone's belief system, I don't really see how anyone could enjoy this book, it was painful to read. One word to sum it up, CHEESY. I actually lost my copy, and admit I haven't looked very hard to locate it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read, Dec 30 2008
This review is from: The Shack (Paperback)
This book is a great story that gives a good view of God's love for us. I dont' usually read fiction books but once I got into it and read it twice. It can be related to most people's lives and how they feel about God at their deepest times whatever they may be and the shack (our body) can be a beaufiful place once we let go of the past.
Note: if your legalistic religious you may not like some of this book as it focuses on God's love and forgiveness. Some people can't get pass that God is portrayed as a Black woman in the Shack as well. I think it's brilliant as if God appeared as a man to him at that time, he would have not been able to accept Him.
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The Shack
The Shack by William P. Young (Paperback - July 1 2008)
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