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on 31 March 2018
The most striking thing about this novel is its vivid description and profound insight. Mack’s story is told by a friend, presumably to give objectivity and authenticity to the story, but I don’t think it needs it personally. Mack’s relationship with his family is clearly outlined in those first few chapters. What starts out as a family holiday soon turns into a nightmare when his son nearly drowns and his little girl goes missing. For most novels this would be the entirety of the plot, but this book has a much deeper purpose.

When Mack gets a note from papa to go to the shack where his daughter went missing, he doesn’t believe it is from God. Despite his anxiety he still goes and meets the trinity. We know Jesus was male and Jewish, because he lived, but to define God as one particular race or gender is to put him in a box of our own making. This will undoubtedly be a challenge to Christians, but not such a problem to unbelievers. There is also a strong relationship between the trinity which is demonstrated when they sit down to eat with Mack. As Mack point out they do not need to eat, but they do it for the joy of being with him. This is one of the main themes of the book, love, joy and relationship.

His time spent at the shack will challenge his view of the trinity and change his view of hardship, injustice and forgiveness. ‘Responsibilities and expectations are the basis of guilt and shame and judgement, and they provide the essential framework that promotes performance as the basis of identity and value.’ Mack asks the father if he is ever disappointed to which he replies never, as he already knows what is going to happen so has no unrealistic expectations. Papa’s continuing mantra throughout the book is that he is ‘especially fond of him.’ This causes Mack to ask the question was there anyone he wasn’t especially fond of, to which papa replies no he can’t think of anyone.

Jesus is male and Jewish and can be portrayed as nothing else, as he is a historical figure. That he works with wood is again no real revelation as we know from history that he was a carpenter. The theological basis in the middle of the book is very profound in places, but such explanation does slow the pace. Mack asks Jesus ‘Does that mean all roads will lead to you?’ to which Jesus replies, ‘not at all. Most roads don’t lead anywhere.’ This is one example of the humour found throughout the book, despite the tragic circumstances of Mack’s life.

The Holy Spirit is both caretaker and gardener. Creating beautiful blooms, but also clearing the land where necessary. Mack comments on the garden being a bit of a mess, overgrown and the spirit says that is because it is his life. The three take him on a journey to show him the world as they see it. By touching Mack’s eyes the spirit reveals the world in a different light giving him the opportunity and capacity to be reconciled to his estranged father. This is perhaps the weakest bit of the book, because there is a sense of by just meeting his father he is able to forgive him. Up to this point the book has asked a lot of hard questions around justice and fairness and perhaps the ground has already been prepared for this reconciliation.

The ending is both satisfying and challenging. It is hard to read this book without a sense of awe, wonder and a box of tissues. The film interpretation is equally as good, if not quite as deep as the book.
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on 3 April 2018
At rare times in your life, you meet a teacher who affects you so profoundly, you never forget the experience. THE SHACK teaches, in a quiet , calm way, a glimpse into the truths abut the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Other reviewers have said they cried reading this book due to its appallingly sad and harrowing (at times) story-line. Others cried for its beauty and I am one of those. Yet also, I cried because what my instinct about God's love has been telling me , after years of spiritual abuse at the hands of 2 radical 'Born-Again' churches, welcoming me in with open arms and then trying to gradually mould me into carbon-copies of Themselves. Shudder shudder. After walking away from one church and being vilified by the other, I never EVER thought I would read something which could possibly heal the wounds left by these people. The book tells a story - yes - and we follow the protagonist's footsteps all the way. But this book does more than that. It SHOWS us, not tells us, that someone Bigger than I am, is saying:- 'you are OK as you are; you are loved; shall we play now?' (Shall we PLAY - not shall we PRAY. Oh wow!)
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on 8 February 2017
I got this book yesterday and could barely put it down and finished it last night... Wow. The love that God has for us in this retelling of creation awed me. The author has a way of writing about God's love in such a way, that I can feel His presence when I read... and apologise for not turning to Him.

There were a couple of things that have particularly stood out in my mind... I thought the way of introducing the serpent to Adam before the Fall certainly reminded me of ways that I have turned away from God at times in my life - not due to sin, not due to anything actually happening e.g. just by worrying about what *could* happen - through just looking inward to myself and not looking outward to Him/Them, and not renewing my mind in who He is/They are. The second one is the mirror. I know what it feels like to look in a mirror such as Lilly does and see what she saw in my reflection. I now, however, see myself as God sees me, too.

This book has challenged me intellectually, has got me speaking to God about creation in a whole new way, and also has shown me (on a level I had previously not experienced) how much I am LOVED by God. It also touched pieces of my heart and mind that have been bruised and broken and reminded me I have a Healer who will restore me if I return to Him.

Were some parts a bit confusing? Yes... but I was reading it a bit quick!! But it will mean that when I go back... there will be delights that I will read that I missed this time... and I am looking forward to it!
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on 21 July 2017
The shack was exactly what my friend needed. I read it myself years ago when I lost my husband and the relieved I felt after reading this book was enormous. It was recommended to me by a friend from the church. So I recommended it to my friend and her family as they are struggling through the lost of their eight year old girl. The book serves more purposes than one, it certainly brought clarity and calm to the bereaved and to anyone who happens to read it. It also helped us all to understand the relationship between the holy trinity. It is a book I will recommend to people whenever I get the chance, it is well written and deserve to be read. I wish I had words to do it justice. I would like to read some more of Paul Young's books, he writes with passion.
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on 24 November 2017
I read this book two years ago, and it changed my life in the way I see God, I found a profound healing taking place as I turned the pages, it takes you from great loss and sadness through to letting go and forgiveness through to hope and a love and zest for life when all hope was lost.
Life changing book: I love that God who is called "Papa" is so approachable and full of love and grace and forgiveness.
The Holy Spirit is a joy to read about and behold, and Jesus is your everyday Carpenter but full of wisdom, and has a great sense of humour too whilst gently teaching us his ways and how each and every one of us can help each other on our journey in this world.
I have ordered numerous copies of the book to complement the Shack DVD., and personally thank Amazon Prime for keeping up with the deliveries, as fast as I get new copies, they are snapped up in my chapel and within my friends, thirsty to know more about a gentle and kind God full of love, grace and forgiveness. I have personally taken this book everywhere I go when I am on holiday, also its beside my bed, as I like to dip into it if I am feeling stressed with life stuff, it always helps me to see the joy of God's love and that we are never alone, and once more I have a spring in my step metaphorically. This book changed my life two years ago, let it change yours. Love and blessings.... Ava..
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on 20 May 2018
Thought I'd give this a go, maybe against my better judgement. The 'child abduction' part is affecting enough - if you can't do anything with that theme you're no writer at all - but when he got to the shack I'm afraid I just found it laughable. God as a sententious 'African American' Mama, dispensin' home-spun wisdom honey, and sitting in a shed with two rather strange chums? It's like Kum Ba Yah in novel form.

The likes of Dante and Bunyan were wise enough not to make God him(her)self a central character, but nowadays we so arrogant that we don't baulk at painting him in our own image. Generally the results are just irritating, and in this case far from doing justice to the very serious issue raised. I don't care if Bear Grylls loves it, it's rubbish.
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on 13 June 2017
I have read all of Paul Young's books and so far they have never disappointed, neither does this one. It gives another perspective based perhaps on the authors personal spiritual beliefs. Maybe not theologically accurate but definitely brings one closer to God. Thank you
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on 23 November 2015
An imaginative book with some stunning scenes in it - but his writing ability really isn't up to conveying the full power of his imagination. If the book hadn't originally been self published, it would have been professionally and probably aggressively edited, and would have been much the better for it. As it stands, it reads like a first draft.
That said, if you have ever wondered whether there is a God, you should read this, for one man's take on what a personal relationship with a loving God might actually feel like.
Many people find their belief, if any, challeged by the amount of suffering in the world. The Shack addresses the problem of suffering, particularly that caused by the actions of others, in a fresh and provocative way, along with the question of whether there is anything at all that we should not be willing and able to forgive - and I speak as someone whose belief has been challenged by these things all my life.
The final twists towards the end challenging the reader to believe that personal disasters just might be working togther for good. It's worth reading because it dares to address these really big questions. We also used it as the basis for two discussion groups, which those involved found very helpful - worth considering for that as well.
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on 14 March 2018
I tried but had to abandon this book it was just so sickly it made my fillings ache. Don’t think I’m the target audience at all. Started out very promising with no idea where the novel would go after the dreadful disappearance of a small girl and then becomes god spending time with the father in a shack. He’s reactions to meeting who he believes to be god are so unnatural and unbelievable that it quickly becomes irritating
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on 17 April 2018
I have no idea why this novel is so popular. It addresses the experience of suffering in novel form (I get that) but it relies heavily on the Old Testament book of Job (God knows, so accept that you don't), mixed with 'the eternal perspective of heaven' which was used in earlier centuries to persuade the poor, and salves, to be happy with their earthly lot (because the reward is coming).

There are far better books out there (shelves full of them) which grapple with suffering from a Christian perspective... but I guess none of them have been made into a film... go figure...
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