Considering myself as a “reader” is too impersonal. If the line between my role as a reader and the author’s role as an author remains too bold and well-defined, I believe the author has failed in creating a successful novel. I’d rather consider myself a warmly-embraced guest, the author as host enthusiastically inviting me into his story for an extended stay.
Unfortunately William P. Young, author of The Shack, made me feel like an intruder for the entire length of his book, although I’m sure this was not his intention as a Christian writer. In the story Mac, a father struggling with his faith after suffering a devastating loss in the family, embarks on a spiritual journey in the same location his tragedy first occurred. As the story progresses and the deep wells of Mac’s grief and guilt are explored, increasingly I felt like the awkward girl at a dinner party that approaches a pair of people already in the midst of an intense, extremely intimate and extremely personal conversation. Except, I feel especially uncomfortable because the conversation taking place is between man and God. Undeserving of making a connection because I’ve never endured a tragedy myself, I have to discreetly retreat from the exchange and eventually make an unnoticed exit at the conclusion of the novel.
I appreciated certain aspects of The Shack, such as Young’s unconventional concepts of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (perhaps a good introduction for someone who is hoping to explore their faith for the first time). I also think this book serves as an excellent resource for someone looking to reestablish their faith after their faith is lost through some devastation. This makes the guest list pretty exclusive however, and I wish Young was able to make the book a little more universal so everyone could feel welcome in reading his story.