William Paul Young‘s first novel, The Shack, was a publishing phenomenon. Young wrote the novel for his children to explain his thoughts on God and his theological convictions. More than 18 million copies later, Young had an international bestseller which touched the lives of people all over the globe. Itt has got people thinking about what kind of God, God is,what the Trinity really is and how the persons of God relate to one another.
Cross Roads is Young’s second novel and while sophomore efforts seldom live up to the hype generated by a best selling debut, for my money this is the better novel. While there is a certain similarity between the two novels (i.e. both are about profoundly broken men who are bitter at God after experiencing the loss of a loved one, both books bring the protagonist into a transforming and healing encounter with the triune God) the Shack was less crafted and preachier. Cross Roads is as interesting (and as varied) as it is profound.
If I were to describe the experience of reading this novel, it is a bit like if you cross The Shack with A Christmas Carol, The Great Divorce and Being John Malcovich. The Story begins when Anothony Spencer, a businessman who is highly successful but who has alienated everyone in his life, has a cerebral hemorrhage and slips into a coma. He awakens to find himself in a deserted wasteland where he follows tangled paths up a hillside. There he meets a mysterious stranger named Jack who tells him the place where he is, is not exactly hell but it is not exactly home. Jack gets Tony to think hard about the nature of truth and reality. Soon Jack leaves and Jesus and a mysterious Lakota woman show up (the Holy Spirit in disguise and instructs Tony to call her Grandmother). After that things get really interesting and they send Tony on a journey which will result in his ultimate healing, though not in the way he initially envisions.
The twists and turns in this book make it a fun read (I have tried not to give too much away). This is great storytelling and well worth it. In The Shack Young gave us a picture of his theology by encapsulating it in story. This book is no less theological but it doesn’t try to say everything about God. The theology that is explored here is integral to the plot.
What I really appreciated about this book (and The Shack) is that Young is great at imagining a pursuing God who does not give up on those who, because of the damage and hurt they have suffered, have become embittered souls. The God in these novels is actively seeking, pursuing, calling, but never forcing. The triune God doesn’t demand, but invites. Anytime someone ‘images’ God they get something wrong, but I think these aspects of the book are profoundly right. So go on, read it!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.