A Book Review – Cross Roads by Wm P Young

Have you ever feared death?  Have you ever felt that you could combat such a fear by cheating it?  What does that look like to you?  A logical choice would be some type of self-preservation lifestyle such as 5Ks, putting a destructive vise to bed, or a book a month.
What about extremes?  If you admit to having them, are they built in extreme, or like Rome, in more than a day?
Young’s ficticious protagonist Tony Spencer is an icon of such fears that have proven to build such extremes.  A wealthy tycoon with a vacation condo on the river and a secretive vacation cabin on the bay, Tony has found himself pushed to the brink.  But the question remains..Where has he found himself?
In fantastical setting, ala his first, so highly acclaimed, redemptive story in The Shack, Young is masterfully composing again a tapestry in Cross Roads that like his first successful venture, unfolds in a shower of theology.  But it’s not your average theological treatise, nor even that of an adventurous one. Cross Roads is a psychological thriller that makes the human heart its stage…literally.
Characters that cameoed in The Shack, are welcome favorites again…Jesus, the Holy Spirit are again personified in ways seemingly so personal to the author that only the theologically open-minded need apply.  And isn’t it this that we long for in fiction, to have our minds expanded, heart strings tugged, and consciences even torn that the emotions of the protagonist are invited into those of our own?
Tony is on a journey…a journey of “participation”.  At the brink of death, Tony repeatedly asks the question, “Where am I?” and “What does this mean?”  Again like the Shack, answers are offered in lengthy fashion to the extent that the reader begins to ask ‘Am I privy to such reactions?’  But so much more than this, I myself have entered into emotional responses that I can recall only The Shack eliciting, in the world of fiction at least.
Part of Tony’s journey is receiving a gift, a precious gift that we human beings no nothing of…the gift of healing, through prayer.  Made to seem like Tony’s ticket to the promised after life, utilizing this gift is difficult for Tony.  And if we are honest, for the reader, it is the same.  So as the carrot is dangled in the form of a likely would be recipient of this gift, the suspense builds and instructs, in such gentle didacticism as only Mr. Young can produce.
So will Tony overcome his prejudices, his philosophy of manipulating others for sordid gain, when faced with his own mortality?  Or will something larger, more encompassing win out as the grand misconception?
In terms of Biblical accuracy regarding the theology of this book, I would say to lay aside momentarily the words of Scripture, and take up the nuances of Scripture, the context, the grand design and admit that we have been given a gift in William P Young.  It is because his own life suggests in the pages of the book, that in the words of CS Lewis, quoted in the book..”One day you will be old enough to read fairytales again.”  Glory be to God that what his own eloquent pen stumbles to provide is more than enough to encourage, and like I just read in the chapter for the day, an admonition to Fight!  For “you are never alone”.

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