Review: Room, by Emma Donoghue

This book is tremendous. This is one of those books that you pick up and then everything else in your world just has to take a back seat. There is no way that you’re going to put it down when you begin. Donoghue’s story is just so compelling.

The story is told through the voice of five year old Jack whose entire world measures 12 x 12 feet. As far as Jack believes, there is absolutely nothing beyond Room, the universe in which he lives. He has friends in room: old toys, the television (Dora is one of his favourite friends) and his “Ma”. Room has its own host of landmarks which Jack thinks of in haunting, proper-noun terms: Rug, Wardrobe, Bed, Meltedy Spoon (awww…) etc.

At first, when readers enter Room and encounter Jack and his Ma, the world is a quiet, innocent place because it is seen through Jack’s quiet, innocent eyes. He is inexperienced and knows nothing of the possibilities of outside. Ma nurtures his beliefs and, at the same tame, allows herself to cling to her own desperate sanity.

7However, as Jack grows and his mind becomes more curious, the reader is exposed to true horrors which Jack cannot understand. We hear (through the doors of Wardrobe) his mother being raped by the man who has kept her locked in Room for the last seven years; we squirm uncomfortably as the young mother continues to breastfeed her growing boy (he even notes in an offhand fashion which breast is creamiest…eww), but it took me a while to figure out that this was what Jack was talking about.His innocence was transferred even to me! Which made my realisation all the more disturbing.

Jack’s father and captor is a Fritzl-esque character who is truly detestable. It is a shame that we can relate real-life tales to the fictional world of Room. But it is also one of the things which makes the book so horrifically gripping.

TINY SPOILER: Without giving too much away, I’ll let you that Jack and his Ma do eventually taste freedom. However, to a pair who know so little of anything outside Room, freedom is a tough and overwhelming thing to face. Jack longs for his old familiars. He knew and loved his Rug, his Meltedy Spoon, and nothing in the outside world is quite so comfortable. Ma has tough things to face too. Her family has changed without her, the world has moved on, and she’s used to being a mother in Room while in the real world she is still a young woman.

Ma has longed for escape for seven years. Jack’s entire world has been Room for his five years, and he never had the -knowledge to want anything else. On the outside, Jack wants nothing more than to return home. In Room, Ma wants nothing more than to get out, to her idea of home.

At times this book is horrific, sometimes it will make you smile and at points you will want to cry. However, it will have you truly caring about these characters and their differing ideas of the world around them. I truly loved this and just blogging about it has made me want to go and read it again. If anyone wants to borrow this amazing read then let me know. Seriously, you’ll be glad that you did.

Lx

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