The Shack by William Paul Young This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

September 30, 2009
The Shack: Mack’s Spiritual Journey

For someone who isn’t an author and just writes books for his family and close group of friends, William Paul Young has made an impact on the world. Young, while in the midst of three jobs, wrote The Shack for his six children and only made an original fifteen copies to hand out to family and friends. Those fifteen copies eventually multiplied into the thousands as The Shack stepped on to the New York Times bestseller list in June of 2008.
The novel is told by the recollections of Mackenzie, and through this point of view the reader is caught up in emotion when Mack is, feels what Mack feels, and sees what Mack sees. The Shack is relatable in the way that everyone who reads it has either experienced or felt something that Mackenzie is going through whether it is a loss, a religious experience, or a conflict within him or herself. Young organizes the novel as telling Mack’s story through flashbacks. He does that to help readers understand chronology along with character development.
Coming from Canada and living with his missionary parents, Young has used his life experiences, his beliefs, and his diction to bring alive scenes in his novel. Young gives credit to C.S. Lewis for his, “Interest in themes of characters exploring though questions that often keep them from faith in God.” Mackenzie, the main character in The Shack, mirrors Young’s life struggles with religious perception especially when he first meets God who is, “A large beaming African-American woman” (Young 84). Religious perceptions don’t help when you picture God as a, “Very large, white grandfather figure with flowing beard, like Gandalf…” (95) especially since Mack didn’t have a strong father figure, and wasn’t accustom to change. Even though it took some getting used to, Mackenzie finally opens up to God, eventually putting aside those religious stereotypes and starting his religious journey with Him.

Young plucks at the string of the readers’ hearts when he writes about Mack’s six year old daughter Missy- the sole of The Great Sadness- and how she forgives the one who did wrong to her and how she wants her daddy to do the same. Mack has trouble with this, and it is understandable why, because he can’t forget what happened to his precious daughter but God is still persistent in asking Mack to forgive the one who did wrong to Missy. He brings up that, “Forgiveness is not about forgetting, Mack. It is about letting go of another person’s throat” (Young 226). Mackenzie’s forgiveness is the key to allowing the burden of The Great Sadness to be lifted off Mack’s heart.

The Shack by William Paul Young is a fantastic novel based on one man’s struggles with his religious journey with the Trinity. Young relates all his readers’ lives to the shack as “The place we make to hide all our crap.” Everything that we want to lock away inside ourselves and never let anyone in, including God is portrayed as a dirty, broken, and damaged shack. For someone who didn’t know he was an author when he wrote The Shack, William Paul Young, not only had an impact on the world but had an impact on me.

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