Shack, The

Christian - Fiction
256 Pages
Reviewed on 03/30/2009
Buy on Amazon

    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

The Shack has received rave reviews. It is a good book. It is a great read. The plot is interesting and I can give it high marks for that. Readers are taking the content as theology, it is a fictional book.

I have a personal relationship with God. I believe he is interested in every aspect of my life. However, He is God. He is not human. He is the creator. For me The Shack merely scratches the surface and does not begin to touch who God is. God is love but He is so much more. God cannot be explained. We must not take away the Reverence.

Having said that…
The Shack will make you think. It will have people searching their soul. You will look at some things in a very different light. This book will cause you to look closer to God and your faith. It can help you understand more about the bad things that happen in our lives. When we face difficult situations, we question why God lets bad things happen. The Shack demonstrates the role free will plays in events. We should learn to turn to God and ask for His help before making decisions. We all need to be close to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I chose this family for all my life and ever after.


One of the most thought-provoking books I've ever read. As soon as I received my copy of The Shack, I read it from cover to cover in one evening. This is a work that draws you in with a page-turner storyline. Then with a mind-bending turn, it proceeds to challenge all your preconceived theological notions. I have nearly finished reading The Shack a second time; next I plan to go through it with a pen to underline ideas that need mulled over.

So far I've purchased 10 copies of the book which I've shared with friends and family. My next order will be for 10 more because of the interest it has generated. In fact, a friend I loaned The Shack to has already purcahsed 12 copies of her own.

The Shack is definitely worth the time it will take you to read it. While you may not agree with all the ideas presented, it will certainly help clarify your thinking about the issues of life that everyone faces.

Nancy B

The Shack is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. Anyone with an idea of God as an old man with a long beard who doesn't really care about human beings has GOT to read this book. William Young has described God and the Holy Spirit better than any doctor of the Church could, in language everyone can understand. My friend, Melissa, gave me this book after she read it, and now I understand why she said she was going to reread it with a pencil and hi-liter. Some of Young's ideas are so unique and simple that you'll want to remeber them always and refer to them often. You will not be disappointed.

Gary L. Allen

Having been in pastoral ministry for 20 years, graduating from Bible College, Seminary, and extensive postgraduate education - finally I have found a book that comes close to a "theology of everything". The content and style is itself representative of the paradigm shift of what is happening in theology in the 21st century. The pages unfold the story of God's love that carries a strong biblical integrity and solid theological foundations. Dietrich Bonhoeffer challenged each generation to understand Jesus Christ in terms of the culture and times in which they live - thus we have to ask "who is Jesus today"? - The Shack takes Bonhoeffer's challenge to today's world.

Speaking of Bonhoeffer, The Shack certainly moves with his approach for "Christianity without religion" proposal. This was his approach to give a non-religious interpretation to Christian understandings that can speak to a world that does not know Christ. The Shack certainly accommodates this approach in such a way that God becomes real to the point of overwhelming.

After seeing this book advertized I did not think it would come close to anything invigorating or challenging - this certainly was not the case - the book actually has changed my life. I cannot see God the way I understood him before. Every aspect of theology is addressed in a narrative way that invigorates, challenges and draws the reader in to an understanding of a God who loves deeply and cares compassionately.

Clearly God is to be found in the pages. I pray this book will be eventually esteemed as among the "greats" of Christian literature. It certainly is a "myth" (story that tells a deep truth) for the 21st Century and I totally recommend it for anyone seeking a deeper relationship with God. Thanks William Young for helping me understand God and His love for me in a deeper way!


Before the book even made it to the bookstores, I knew some people who bought a whole case to give to people. Never heard of anything like it.

When it was my turn to read it, I had a different reaction than I expected. The book was different than what I thought, but not bad--just different. [...]

This book gets round our earthly relational issues to help us see into the true heart of God. I never recommend books, don't read fiction much, and think most theological writings are all wet. But I'll recommend this one.

Susan H. Easterday

Like others have said--this book is a novel! It's a man's compelling fictional account of his conversations with God. Are there things that might not specifically address all attributes of God--of course. But this is not a commentary, not a study book on the trinity--nothing like that. And since we are made in image of God; we don't know how God looks.

I grew up in a legalistic, fundamentalist Baptist church--with lots of rules, but no love. I would much rather my unsaved friends and family meet the God of love, then learn about the rest of Him. READ the stories in the Bible. Many folks came from many different walks of life and situations to meet God. I believe that is what is communicated in this book.

God works in people today, just like in the Old Testament days, Reformation, and any other time. I found some points in this book to touch me and move me--but it doesn't replace my Bible. I think this book points out that we can't "keep God in a box;" that we don't fully understand Him, and we won't know until Heaven. But God created us for personal, loving relationship with Him and that's what he wants us to pursue--to make a difference in His Kingdom!

Robert Burgess

I could write a review based upon my experience with this book but I think I will use something someone else shared with me about their experience. This seems to be a very common thread that I continue to hear from people who have read it.

They told me that they had always lived with the concept and belief that there was possibly a God that loved them even though it felt very conditional because of their experiences with religion . But they always lived with this feeling that something was missing.

They told me they were beginning to understand what that was and why. They had lived with just a belief about something and it had never penetrated any deeper than that and it was a distorted picture of God based on their experience. The story told in the book began to take down the wall that had kept their understanding as just a mere belief about something. The wall was fear....fear of God that then spread out into a fear of everything. To have that wall begin to come down and to begin to consider the possibility of feeling safe enough to crawl up onto the lap of the God who really loves and cares for them began to change everything. This dear person who had spent 30 some years actually running from God due to this distortion, is taking a closer look today and finding someone so different. All from having read this little book.

I think you will find yourself wanting to read it again and again.

book lover

What an incredible story! I wasn't sure what to expect but was drawn right in and unable to stop until the last page. Young introduces you to Mack and you find yourself "feeling" his personal crisis and wanting to walk through it with him. Mack's journey takes you from anger at God , questioning and denial until he gets to the other side of the wall and realizes the beauty that he has been missing.

If you have ever walked through a personal crisis that made you question your faith..this is the book for you!

Gilbert Stokes

After reading many of the reviews and comments that others have posted concerning this book, I thought I'd add my own two cents. Perhaps some of this has already been discussed, and if so I apologize for any redundancy.

Personally, I enjoyed the book, and it gave me several things to think about in terms of my own relationship with God. In response to some of the issues that have been raised with it's theology, I think one must consider some of the following:

1. In regards to it's lack of emphasis on the plan of salvation, or God's dealing with non-Christians, I think it's important to keep in mind that Willie was by most accounts already a Christian, but suffered from not really understanding who God was, or how was to relate to Him. I believe the book itself is targeted primarily towards believers, and it wasn't necessary to the story line that time be spent on discussing salvation. When Jesus is talking about his followers coming from different races and religions, I did not read that as though he were implying that a Buddhist can have a relationship with God apart from salvation in Christ, but that salvation is open to anyone who would believe.

2. I think one of the themes of the book was to challenge a Christianity that is more ritual than relationship. Although "faith without works is dead", it is not so much about the things we do as who we are. Willie was a Christian who had experienced the rituals, but had left him empty and unable to deal with the loss of his daughter. The story as I saw it was God taking his focus off of the rituals and onto the relationship.

3. The book is not meant to stand on it's own as a theological text, it must be read and considered within the framework of Biblical Christianity. The author is using parable forms to help illustrate some of the characteristics of God and a relationship with Him, and highlight certain areas that not emphasized enough in most of today's churches.


This book is powerful. Not only is it incredibly well-written, but it is realistic as well. It will blow all your preconceived notions about God, yourself, and Truth right out of the water. It is a powerful read with some great insight. I know that this is a book that will stay with me for a long time.

As I was reading this book, I felt like someone had either gotten into my head or my journal! I have struggled with so many of the same issues and questions as Mack does. In fact, I think that is one of the greatest strengths of this book. It doesn't shy away from the hard questions, honest emotion, and struggle. Best of all, this book avoids the simplistic answers that so many Christian books spout. This book does delve deeply into the issue of trusting God. But it's not in a "Trust God and have faith and all your problems will disappear just like that!"

I think every Christian should read this book. There is so much here to chew on and think about. I definitely intend to re-read this book. And I will most definitely recommend it to others.

If you are struggling with questions, doubt, anger with God, intense emotional pain or just frustration with life in general, do yourself a favor and read this book. You will be so glad you did.

Kathleen Brown

I've always had this sense that when we get to heaven God is going to embrace and love us, and then shake his head and say, "Wow - you sure went off on some strange tangents and made mountains out of molehills." I believe the "controversy" over this book will fall into that category.

This book provides a view of God, and his love for us, in a fresh way that touched me in a unique way. It gave me such a vivid example of how God loves me - just as I am TODAY - that I have renewed strength and commitment. There is nothing in the book that contradicts the Bible that I have studied and loved for years. Read it with an open mind and heart - and be prepared to be different when you finish the book than when you started.

D. Kevin Wood

I have been a pastor for 26 years. I have a masters in theology. I've read innumerable books on the faith. Most every Sunday, I preach at my church about the Christian faith and who God is. I should know all this stuff! Then I read The Shack. It has transformed how I pray. It has changed how I view God. My spiritual life has morphed into something deeper and more profound. The imagery in this book has helped bring clarity to areas of my faith that were confusing and gray. Amazing book! I have recommended it to all my friends.