Sometimes I think we literary types try too hard to find things wrong with novels. (If everybody were Faulkner, then Faulkner wouldn't be Faulkner. So don't expect everyone to approach that mark.)
I just had a Twitter exchange with John Carney and Greg Milinovich about The Shack. I tweeted about it because I didn't think I had enough to make a substantial blog post about it, but after going back and forth with Greg for a bit, I think I do.
Yes, The Shack is clichéd at points, predictable in others, but it's still worth reading.
Greg tweeted, "some are really against it thought saying that it is a wolf in sheep's clothing: a venue for heresy. i don't agree." Neither do I. I do think some people have way too big of a problem with the idea of God presenting Godself as a large black woman who goes by "Papa." In fact, in my borrowed copy, my friend's father's bookmark rested just a few pages after Papa introduced herself. My friend's guess is that it challenged her dad's thinking a bit more than he wanted to admit.
The thing is dripping in grace theology, a concept lost on most humans much of the time. But lots of scholarly texts say more about grace than does The Shack. The difference here is that it's actually readable for someone who isn't interested in a textbook or a sermon.
(Part of me wishes there was more detail about tracking down Missy's killer, but that part of me just really likes a good detective story. It's not necessary for the plot.)
So, yes, some heavy-handedness in the narrative. But I think as a parable, it can provide a better understanding of love and forgiveness.
(And what if God is Aretha Franklin? Wouldn't you be embarrassed if you'd said God couldn't be the Queen of Soul, and she turned out to be just that? In her Inauguration hat?)
Anyway, The Shack is easy to follow, holds the reader's attention, and has the potential to inspire new ways of thinking and living. If you haven't read it, consider doing so.