As will soon become somewhat of a running theme for my reviews, I’m finally reading a book that came out quite a while ago. I’ve had a very backed-up book queue, alright?
Room, by Emma Donoghue, is about a boy who lives with his mother in a small shed. “Ma” was abducted as a teenager and has spent the last seven years in captivity. They story is told through the eyes of Jack, a result of the multiple rapes (the reader is thankfully not subjected to graphic details as we the readers are sheltered in the same fashion as Jack by being sequestered to Wardrobe, and only counting the number of times Bed creaks), who has just turned five years old. It’s not really a spoiler to say that they are able to escape, at which point the book becomes about Ma adjusting back to a “normal” life, while Jack has to adjust to a life completely different from what he had known so far.
The unique narrative view takes a little getting used to, mainly due to the fact that it reads the same way a child Jack’s age would talk. “Room” refers to the 11×11’ space in which they live. Most every object is personified as Wardrobe, Bed, Chair, etc. Toddler-isms are all over the place (e.g. “Ma hots Thermostat way up for the drying, she pulls Clothes Horse out from beside Door and stands him open…). Between the sentence structure and unusual (for us) way of talking, I found myself having to read a little more closely in order to fully “get” the picture. Having said that, however, this style certainly was effective in bringing me into this world, and did a fantastic job oh highlighting just how differently Jack sees his world. For him, literally everything that is not physically present in the room is only imaginary.
For Jack, the real drama begins with his introduction into the outside world. All he has ever known is his little world with his mother always at his side. He is remarkably intelligent, a credit to his mother doing the best with what resources she had, but he is understandably severely lacking in social skills.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the book. If I was a more pretentious person, I would expand on the comparisons one could make to Plato and the allegory of the cave, but statistically, most of us have probably cracked open a Philosophy 101 book before.