Title: The Shack
Author: WM. Paul Young
Page Count: 248 pages
Genre: Christian Fiction
Tone: Inspirational, Thriller
Mackenzie Allen Phillips’ youngest daughter has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack. Four years later, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare.
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
Questions composed by MPPL Staff
- 1. Did this book shock or disturb you? Intrigue you?
2. Were you drawn in by the plot of The Shack? How is it as a story?
3. Who is the intended audience?
4. The book maintained a spot on bestseller lists for several weeks and over one million copies have been sold. If religion is such a touchy subject, how can we explain the runaway success of this book?
5. Did you find the character of Mack to be sympathetic?
6. Many readers find the early chapters of The Shack almost too painful to read. Could they have been written in a way that would be less painful without changing the book’s message?
7. Why is The Great Sadness so frequently mentioned and always italicized?
8. Did the family’s different reactions to the tragedy ring true? (e.g., Josh, Kate, Mack)
9. How did you respond to the use of the narrator “Willie”? What did this add to the story?
10. How was Nan characterized? Should she have been more integral to the story?
11. Does the idea of God as a character in the book, or God’s first-person voice, bother you? Does it work within the context of The Shack’s story?
12. Why is God portrayed a woman? What reasons does God give Mack?
13. How is Young’s description of God different from your concept of God? What parts of his description did you like and what parts didn’t you like? Compare Mack’s assumptions of how God might appear to your own.
- 14. Are people changing their view of God because of this book?
- 15. Why do you think Mack’s encounter with God took place at the shack?
16. Why did God let Missy die? Do you think The Shack answers convincingly the central question of why, if there is a God, bad things happen to good people? Were you satisfied with God’s answers to Mack about suffering?
17. Why do you think Missy was buried in the garden?
18. What does The Shack say about forgiveness – toward the self or toward those who have wronged you?
19. What were your thoughts about Mack’s reconciliation with his father? In what ways to our relationships with our parents define us? Color our relationship with God? With others?
- 20. What is the literary merit of this book?
21. What do we know of the author? What does he reveal about himself in the story and in his reasons for writing?
22. How does the author portray church (or The Church)? Do you agree?
- 23. Which part of the book spoke to you the most and why?
24. What part of the book created the most questions for you?
Lit Lovers’ Discussion Questions
Video of Young talking on CBN (Christian Bible Network)
USA Today Article on controversy surrounding The Shack
Q&A with WM Paul Young
Richards Academy’s Discussion Guide