I’ve now finished reading Cross Roads by Wm Paul Young (see this post).
My first thought was that, if I was editing this book, I’d tell the author to ditch the first chapter! This chapter comprises of what I would call ‘back story’ – bringing us up to speed on the main character. There’s a lot of showing, not telling – if I did this, an editor would tell me off! Although the content of back story is relevant, this would be much more appropriate and readable if woven into the rest of the story, given bit by bit, a back story that emerges out of the main story. A reader doesn’t need to be force fed every detail. They can draw their own conclusions – and if the novel acts as a journey of discovery not just for the plot but also the character, it can be very satisfying.
That is my main niggle with the book. Once this preamble is over, we get into the more relaxed, easy style that will be familiar to readers of the Shack.
Tony, a ruthless businessman who has used and abused those in his life, falls into a coma. While in this coma he enters an ‘in-between’ life – where he encounters God, depicted in various forms. (He also encounters ‘Jack’ – I worked out who Jack was very easily – and liked him – but the author will tell you in the acknowledgements at the end if you’re unclear!) This ‘in-between’ life is a landscape that is in some strange way a reflection of Tony himself. I was reminded of the allegorical nature of Pilgrim’s Progress, as Tony encounters embodied aspects of his own character.
The book flits between this land of the in-between and a close knit group of people – sixteen year old Cabby, who has Down Syndrome, finds Tony in his hospital bed and kisses him on the forehead – and somehow Tony finds himself inside Cabby, seeing through his eyes. He doesn’t remain there – most of the time he interacts with Maggie, an effusive and often entertaining character (I did chuckle at times at Maggie’s reaction to having a ‘white man’ in her head).
I won’t go into much more detail, so as not to give away the plot. It won’t be to everyone’s taste. However, this is an easy, gentle read (once you’ve got past the first chapter!) and is full of cheerful characters and creative imagery – including pictures of the nature of God (reminiscent of the Shack). There is no doubt that the author has a wonderful imagination and the book reflects this as Tony grapples with these strange, new experiences. You will want to know how it ends – and what Tony will choose to do with the gift he is given by Jesus.
I received this book free from Hodder & Stoughton for the purpose of reviewing.
I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.