When the novel The Shack came out in 2007, it caused quite a stir. Paul Young had been rejected by over 20 publishers, both Christian and non-Christian, so he self-published the book. With sales of close to 20 million copies of The Shack, it goes without saying that the publishers came knocking on his door for his newest novel, Cross Roads.
The story opens by introducing us to the main character, Anthony Spencer. He is successful and wealthy but he is also very unlikeable. As we find out some of the details of his life, we find out that he has everything he could possibly want. He has power, he has wealth, and he is successful on every level in his professional life.
But the reader also finds out that Spencer is all alone. His parents were killed by a drunk driver when he was a child. Everyone one else was driven away by Tony’s own actions. We find out that his ex-wife divorced him, accepted the settlement, and walked away. This was not a “win” for Tony so he wooed her back, remarried her, and then served her with divorce papers two weeks later. This was his idea of a “win.”
One can’t help being repulsed by Tony’s actions and lifestyle. At the same time, I was also drawn in by the depth of his own hurt. Tony’s life was shattered by the death of his parents. There were other personal tragedies along the way. His ex-wife hates him. His only child, a teenage daughter hates him and refuses to have anything to do with him.
During one of his alcohol fueled periods of introspection, Spencer falls and cracks his skull on the floor of a concrete parking garage. A passerby finds him and calls 911. Tony is transported to the hospital where he ends up in ICU in a coma. This is where the story becomes very interesting.
What goes on inside the mind of someone who is in a coma? Scientists seem to differ on how much brain activity takes place inside of a person who is in a coma. In a normal person, the conscious mind makes up about 12% of the mind. The subconscious mind makes up the other 88%. In other words, almost 90% of a normal person’s brain activity is going on in the subconscious.
How does this work, though, for the person like Anthony Spencer who is in a coma? The rest of Cross Roads is a fascinating story of Spencer’s encounter with God and other people. I am not going to give any more details because I don’t want to give away the spoilers. I do wonder how many readers were able to figure out who “Jack, the Irishman” was? If you read The Shack, you will find some familiar imagery here. In many ways, however, Young takes the reader on a completely different journey into the human mind and spirit.
Cross Roads takes the reader on a journey of forgiveness, healing, and redemption. One of Young’s strengths as a writer is that he is able portray God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in such unique ways. The ability to take a fresh look at God through different lenses is often the first step that one takes to find the healing that they need.
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