Published by Picador
Room by Emma Donoghue
Jack is five, he lives and has always lived in a locked room measuring eleven feet by eleven feet, with his Ma. They escape captivity and have to learn to live in the bigger world, which takes massive adjustment and heartache.
This book was shortlisted for the booker prize and well reviewed at the time of its initial release. It is a story told from the point of view of a five year old character Jack, and takes him and his mother from confinement in a reinforced and soundproofed garden shed, to their escape and readjustment to their lives in the bigger world.
Most of the reviews have been very positive and the book has a great deal of merit, but I found myself skipping ahead in the first third of the book because once the details of the daily routine in the room were given, it was obvious that Jacks mother was working very hard to protect him from the reality of their situation, so Jack as the narrator did not have the full story. It was clear that the love Ma had for Jack was what kept them going and filled Jacks life with enjoyment every day with very limited space and resources. Sadly, it became boring to hear his interpretation all the time, but it built admiration for his mother in how she occupied his time and his mind.
However, the next part of the book was faster paced and the escape was completely nerve jangling, if slightly far fetched. With a great feeling of relief for the reader, Jack escapes first and facilitates his mothers rescue with the help of some very efficient police officers. The section of the book when Jack and his mother are in the clinic for assessment and introduction to freedom was fascinating, and detailed enough for any amateur sociologist or counsellor to thoroughly enjoy.
This writer describes the child’s insecurities very well when Jack asks if his mother is sorry they left the room and she says no, he cannot understand this. She had made him feel so safe and secure that he missed the room and the closeness of their relationship. In the world he had to share his mother and this was one of the difficult changes for him. There have been real life abductions similar to this story which horrify us and are really beyond our understanding. At times, while reading the book, it felt like a true story which was a bit spooky. This book did not give us motive for the years of confinement, in fact it gave very few details of the abductor, and no insight to his character. It also gave quite wooden characterisation of the other family members, and they were not given a very important role.
All said and done, I still have mixed feeling about this book, but it is after all fiction and mostly well written and edited. I would recommend it as a weekend read on your kindle and you can get this very cheap with the link on this page. I will certainly try another book by this author.