Room – Emma Donoghue
Genre: Contemporary; Realistic Fiction
Summary: Imagine everything you knew about the world was contained in a small room. You’ve never been able to leave this room, and even though you watch television, you still don’t believe that anything exists outside of the room. While this may seem unbelievable, for five-year-old Jack, it’s his life. Born into captivity, Jack and his mother live together in a tiny, self-contained room and only have each other for company…that is, until Old Nick decides to make his daily visits. Told from Jack’s perspective, Room chronicles his and his mother’s life in captivity. Are they doomed to live a life of confinement forever, or can they somehow find a way to escape Room and their captor?
Review: Even though I knew Room had difficult subject matter, I had been anxious to read it for quite some time. Super depressing books seem to be a go-to for me, and I’m not really sure why that is. Room was an incredibly engaging, suspenseful read, and I was hooked from start to finish.
Donoghue did an excellent job imagining just how acquiescent children are, and it was exemplified in the creation of the five-year-old narrator, Jack. Since the story was told from Jack’s perspective, it was a bit of an adjustment to get inside of his head because his thoughts were written so simplistically, but after the first few chapters, I was completely drawn into Jack’s world, regardless of language. If it was told from the mother’s perspective, I don’t think the story would have been as good, simply because she had known the outside world. It was terrifying and heartbreaking to see how comfortable and safe Jack felt in Room, but because it was all he knew, it really made a lot of sense.
Besides Jack, the other characters were also really well done. Old Nick was definitely scary, and through Jack’s description, the reader could get a real sense of what an unconscionable human being he was. His mother was also well done, and it was evident how much she loved Jack and how badly she wanted him to really be safe.
Room was an absorbing read, full of action and drama. If you can handle stories about captivity and you’re looking for a good, engaging read, definitely give it a try.
Read-alikes: The Collector – John Fowles, The Face on the Milk Carton – Caroline B. Cooney