Mackenzie Allen Phillips had never considered himself a particularly religious man; he was always fairly content to leave the life of prayers and heavenly praise to his wife of almost thirty-five years - Nanette. Mackenzie - known as Allen to acquaintances, and Mack to family and close friends - had endured a difficult and painful childhood. Living with an abusive, alcoholic and tyrannical father had forced him to mature quickly, and he had become estranged from the rest of his family at age thirteen. Mack had reconciled with his family as an adult, but his relationships with his mother and sisters were never the same as before.
Mack and Nan themselves had lived a relatively trouble-free life together: Thirty-three mostly happy years of marriage, and five unusually beautiful, yet terrific children. Secretly, Mack had always considered that Nan had paid a high price for loving him; however, he cherished his wife and family immeasurably. Their love was what sustained him and gave him the greatest joy in his life.
Then, tragedy strikes. The Phillips' youngest daughter, Missy, is abducted during a family vacation to the Oregon wilderness. After a desperate and exhaustive search, evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in a ramshackled, abandoned shack. However, the child's body is never found. The entire family is sent into an unending maelstrom of grief and despair that threatens to overwhelm them completely.
Four years after Missy's disappearance, Mack is still trapped in the period of what he terms his 'Great Sadness'. He is utterly heartbroken and benumbed by the loss of his daughter, still unable to fully grasp the enormity of what has happened to himself and his entire family. This is when the most mysterious event occurs: Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that infamous shack to spend the weekend. Mack is alternately stunned and enraged by what he clearly reads as irrefutable evidence of someone's demented sense of humor.
However, on a bitterly cold wintry afternoon Mack decides to return to the place where his family was so irrevocably changed. Against his better judgement, he will come back to the same shack that holds such tragic memories for him; deliberately stepping back into his worst nightmare. What he finds there - in the place of his darkest torment - will ultimately change Mack's world forever.
In my opinion, this was a remarkable book to read. It was very well-written and thought-provoking; and I avidly wanted to find out what would happen to Mack and his family. I can certainly understand why this book became so popular with so many readers. However, while I did enjoy reading this book very much, I'm not exactly sure if it was my cup of tea. I would still give this book a definite A!
As a Christian, I can appreciate the need to explain the Holy Trinity in a more understandable light. However, I don't care for the characterization and I couldn't finish it. I know a lot of people that loved it and I'm glad it exists, but I pray that the readers look into what the Bible says and continue to look for truth.
Excellent book. Thought provoking, makes you really think deep, not light stuff. Tough to read because it deals with painful situations. Well worth the time. Be sure to open your mind to the possibility of seeing things from a different perspective, not saying its right or wrong, not saying I agree or disagree, just be ready to see things from a different point of view.