My review from the Woman Alive book club, originally published in February 2013, shortly after the release of the follow-up to the massive hit, The Shack.
Many anticipated Cross Roads, Wm Paul Young’s novel following his huge success with The Shack. Me? Not so much. I reviewed The Shack in the Woman Alive book club in 2008, and although it had more reader reviews than any other book in our half-dozen years of the book club, I didn’t love it. Some of his theology concerned me (bordering on universalism), and I thought the opening fifty pages was wrought with purple prose. And yet I couldn’t discount the way God used The Shack to bring grace and healing into the lives of many. So when Cross Roads arrived through the post, I thought, “Hmm.” I wasn’t keen to drop everything and read it. But some of our Facebook group wanted me to do so, and thus here I am.
Again the opening pages scream with adverbs and adjectives as the author is at pains to set the scene. Because this book was published traditionally, and not self-published as The Shack was initially, I hoped the publishers would have reigned in the prose. An example: “He had been birthed in an explosion of life, an inner expanding universe coalescing in its own internal solar systems and galaxies with unimagined symmetry and elegance” (p.4). But eventually the descriptions eased as the action got going, and I didn’t have to force myself to continue reading.
The author has a fantastic imagination, and I enjoyed the worlds we traversed as Tony, the protagonist, lies in a coma, given one chance by Jesus and the Holy Spirit to physically heal one person. Tony slides into the head of another person (this is all on the dust jacket – I won’t give away too much!) and starts to see the world through their eyes. Compassion, empathy, grace, and mercy become real to him as he moves away from his self-centred focus. The reader too gains empathy for him, the once crusty businessman whose aim had been only to win, as we learn why he erected the towering walls of protection.
Should you read Cross Roads? I don’t know if you should, but I think many will, especially those who loved The Shack. If you can make it past the early plodding pages, you’ll enter an imaginary world that may enlarge your view of God and your fellow men and women. Like me, you might find yourself irritated by certain quirks of the author (for instance, I wasn’t convinced by his CS Lewis character, and I found the idea that members of the Trinity could be sarcastic as falling outside of God’s character). But yes, it’s worth reading for a glimpse of what the soul could look like, and the relational view of God in his three persons, who always wants to interact with us.
Have you read it? If so, what did you think?
Cross Roads, Wm Paul Young (Hodder, ISBN 978-1444745979)