by Emma Donoghue
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.
My Thoughts: Room is written from the perspective of Jack, a little boy who has just turned five years old. It is told from his point of view and from his language. Jack tells of his days spent with Ma inside of Room, the 11 x 11 room where they are held captive. Jack has never been to Outside, and Ma only remembers what it was like before her captivity. The only other real person Jack has ever seen before is Old Nick, and he only visits late at night. Jack stays inside of Wardrobe while Old Nick is visiting.
Jack’s days are filled with a routine of lots of fun things. Ma has used the few things she has to create a world full of fun and learning for him. He is a happy child and as well-rounded as he can be stuck inside one room for five years. Ma does as well as she can, until one day when she just decides she has been locked up for long enough. She comes up with a plan to get her and Jack out of Room. For the plan to work, Jack has to be very brave.
I cannot tell you what I went through when I was reading this book! From the very highest of happy to the deepest of fear for Jack and Ma…it’s all there, in those pages. The language is beautiful. It was so wonderful to read it from the perspective of a five-year-old…in this way, the author was able to present her story with all of the pieces, but it was in the simplistic language of a child. What is even more amazing about this perspective was that I could, as a reader, see things into the story that Jack was not able to see. I could understand the sacrifices his mother was making for him even though he did not understand them. This made the story so much more profound and beautiful.
But the story…the story itself was so gripping. When Ma was describing the escape to Jack, I was fearful. When Jack responded to the story, I was fearful. When the escape attempts were being made, I was insanely fearful. And in the second half of the book, my emotions were up and down and up and down…the second half of the book is a story in and of itself, entirely. Amazing.
I really don’t know what else to say about Room except to give it a chance. I would recommend that you read something lighthearted and fun immediately before it and immediately after it. It is heavy but well worth the time you put into it.
This book has won and been short-listed for tons of awards. I totally understand why.