Sequel to The Shack: Review of Crossroads by Wm. Paul Young
Wm. Paul Young captured lightening in a bottle with The Shack. 18,000,000 books sold and counting. This book was a world changer for millions of readers. It has been a few years since its publication, and Mr. Young has put out, not a sequel to The Shack, but another thought provoking novel of humanity and spirituality.
The title of the book is Crossroads, and the title spells out just what we find in the book. Anthony Spencer is a wealthy, powerful man. Selfish, self centered, arrogant, sometimes even cruel; he is everything a person shouldn't be. He suffers a cerebral hemorrhage, and becomes comatose in the hospital. While in the coma, he awakens to discover he is in a world not of his making. While in this world, he interacts with others, both real and existing in the world he left behind, and those whose existence is wholly within himself. He also interacts with those who exist in both worlds.
He slides back and forth between the worlds, interacting with each world as he exists there. While in the world he left behind, he is introduced to people he never would have met. He exists within their minds, their hearts, their souls. He is able to speak with them, and to move from one to another, thereby enriching his "afterlife". Along the way he meets a Downs Syndrome boy and his sister, who suffers from her own ailment. He meets their friends and family, and finds he does have a heart.
While in the netherworld, he meets a representative of God the Father. He also meets himself, up close and personal. He is forced to take a long, hard look at himself, and discovers he doesn't like what he sees. While cleaning house, he is offered a second chance by Jesus: he can return to the hospital and heal one person; not alone, but with Jesus' assistance. He feels that by healing himself, he can best help others, making wrongs right and offering his earthly wealth up to them to make their lives better.
This journey of self discovery, of looking at one's self is jolting and jarring, while offering the reader the chance to follow along and look at them self at the same time. The reader might discover things about themselves they will not be proud of. Or they might find themselves to be on the receiving end of behavior which is caused by those they work with, or live with, and decide to make a change in themselves while trying to help another soul.
Personally, I did not find Crossroads as compelling as The Shack. But as I stated earlier, The Shack was lightening in a bottle; it is difficult, if not impossible, to do that twice in a lifetime. Young still has created a compelling storyline, though. In The Shack, he took us on a voyage of self re-discovery; finding God again after a tragedy, of working through our anger and distrust after something horrible occurs. I hope we never have to experience something such as what occurred in this book. Crossroads takes us on a voyage of self discovery, of discovering if we are the person we are reading about. Are we that person who cares so much more about themselves than we do for others? While the story itself may be weaker than The Shack, the characters are still strong, and the moral as strong as any I have read. While examining himself, Spencer finds characters within himself that he realizes he doesn't what to be associated with, and to eliminate them he needs help. We all have those living within ourselves we are not proud of.
Crossroads is a good read, albeit somewhat predicatable in its plot. Still, I found myself hoping there was more to the ending. It is a good ending, but the author could have done more.