Room by Emma Donaghue
‘Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra. Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero. “Was I minus numbers?”‘
Wow! Yep, I’m going to say it again. WOW! This novel was extremely powerful. In fact, it is probably the best book I’ve ever chosen from the Kroger magazine & book rack! Donaghue went above and beyond to show her expertly crafted writing skills and creative magic prose with the writing of this novel.
Meet Jack. Jack is a brilliant little five year old boy. He loves reading his books, playing games with his Ma, and of course he enjoys watching TV. But Jack is different from any other boy because he has spent his entire life in one tiny room. He shares this room with his Ma and a mysterious man who he calls Old Nick. Room is all he knows other than his Ma.
Ma was abducted from college. And although she knows that an entire world exists outside of their room she raises Jack as if there is nothing outside their room but outer space. She has developed daily routines so Jack can have as normal a life as possible. She even adds into their routines daily shouting and nightly light switch off and on times. Of course Jack doesn’t understand that she is doing this in hopes of reaching someone; of being saved.
The entire book is read from Jack’s point of view. His world of only Room is about to change. He sees a medicine bottle on the TV that is exactly like the one his Ma has and he begins asking questions. His Ma tells Jack ‘stories’ that she claims are true although he just can’t understand how it can be because nothing exists outside room. When she first begs and then forces Jack into helping them escape Jack’s world decidedly grows much larger finally after their first attempt fails.
Room is a provocative novel that challenges the adult mind to take in the world around us through the eyes of an innocent child. We see not just the routines and the manners of living but also how we become numb to the influences all around us. When outside after getting stung by a bee it occurs to Jack that he never knows what is going to cause him pain. This thought and so many more, if you really take it in causes you to look at how things are absorbed by the mind and the body and what it means to go from leading an isolated life with one person to being overwhelmed by the ‘outside’.
I could not find anything in this book that I disliked other than at times I thought the story was moving a bit slow at times. While some may claim that the story wasn’t written well, I would have to ask them if they had a hard time connecting to the perspective of a five year old.