"Truth is stranger than fiction,
but it is because Fiction it is obliged to stick to possibilities;
ROOM - Emma Donoghue
Author: Emma Donoghue
Publisher: First Back Bay/Little, Brown & Company
Publ. Date: May 2011
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the world. It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where Jack is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack's curiosity is building alongside Ma's own desperation--and she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.
Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating--a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.
MY THOUGHTS :
The story begins with Jack turning 5 years old. Jack eats, plays and watches only a little TV, his Ma says if you watch too much "it rots the brain", in a room. This is the only place Jack knows but to his mother there is a world outside the room she misses and where people miss her. For the past seven years Ma, as she is called by Jack, has been held captive by Old Nick but Jack doesn't realize it. The room is Jack's whole life and all he knows. He doesn't believe what he sees on TV is real. He thinks all the stories his mother tells him about the outside world are made up and just wants to stay where he is. As time passes by Ma is not only afraid for herself but for Jack too. She knows Jack is getting older and Old Nick will see him as a threat and may either take him away or harm him. She recognizes the fact that it's time for them to try to escape and she has to depend on Jack for help.
Room was a tough read for many reasons. First, it is written the way a 5 year old child speaks and thinks since it's written through Jack's point-of-view. It wasn't that he didn't know how to speak but his vocabulary is clearly very hindered due to his limited interaction with people other than his mother or watching television. Second, even though Jack's mother tried to instill some semblance of normal to what a normal boy his age would do, such as exercising on a homemade track, playing pretend and learning to read, after awhile you start to understand what difficulties Jack would face outside the room. Third, the subject matter is very, very difficult - abduction/kidnapping, captivity and rape.
Due to the topics of captivity, kidnapping and rape the book instilled a sense of fear right from the beginning. Initially I started to feel claustrophobic by the space they lived in. Jack's mother had no privacy and they had to make due with the space that they did have. Donoghue draws you in to their every day lives that it almost starts to feel normal and you hope the bad guy doesn't make an entrance into the small bubble Jack and his mother have created. When Old Nick makes an appearance I immediately got a sense of dread and anxiety because I never knew when he would come back and destroy the safe space again. I wanted to yell at the book/Old Nick to leave them alone. Although Donoghue brings him into their safe space but when he's not there he feels like a shadow that is always looming. When coming up to the parts of rape I had to put the book down. Although Donoghue didn't give to much detail the idea of it was horrendous. Plus the added fear of what can happen to Jack made it even worse.
I rated the book a 4 because I liked it and thought it is well written even though primarily it was difficult to read via a 5 year-old's perspective. I disliked it because of the subject matters of the book and I found one aspect to be unbelievable. I found it absurd that Jack's mother hatched a plan so quickly and implemented Jack into it. Jack was still the same 5 year old who thought his mother made believe all the things about Outside and now she's asking him to go on a harrowing task and be brave. Yes there was an element of speed in which the plan had to happen or else the opportunity would've been lost yet she expected a lot from Jack who never set foot outside. I'm glad and I cheered when the plan worked but my heart was in my throat the whole time. I was very scared for Ma and Jack. I couldn't imagine putting our lives in my child's hands and hoping they would be able to memorize a plan while being scared at the same time.
What did you think of Room? How did you cope reading through the difficult parts in the Room? What did you think of Jack? Ma? Did you have trouble reading Room? Have you seen the movie? If not, do you plan to? Is there anything you would change or think should be expanded on?
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