Monday, October 4, 2010

Book Review: "Room" by Emma Donoghue

Jack just turned five years old. To celebrate, he and his mother play games, watch TV, eat cake and his mother measures his growth progress by marking his height on the wall. Sounds like a great birthday, doesn't it? The only thing is, Jack has never been outside the storage shed where he and his mother are being held captive. In fact, Jack was born in Room (his name for the shed) and his mother was kept there for two years before his birth. Their captor, whom they call Old Nick, brings things they need—food, clothing, the occasional book or toy—but Jack has to sleep in Wardrobe when Old Nick comes late at night.

This is a tremendously affecting story of the amazing love a mother has for her child, creating a whole world in just one room. Jack doesn't know what's outside Room and doesn't really care; it's not until he turns five that his mother starts to plan how Jack can be used to free them from captivity. The challenge is that neither of them truly understand what being free would really mean to them—the world outside of Room proves to be even more threatening in some ways than being held captive did.

I enjoyed this book a great deal, even if at times it was a bit predictable. The only adjustment that needed to be made was that the entire story is told from Jack's point of view, so at times the narrative is hard to follow given his unique grasp of language. But I constantly marveled at the world Emma Donoghue created for Jack and Ma in Room, and then I wondered if something like this could actually be happening just under our noses. Wow, what a book.

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