Imagine you’re five years old and one room is your whole world. You were born in this room and have lived there your whole life with only your mother for company. You’ve grown up thinking that this room and the people in it are the only things that really exists. This is Jack’s reality. Room is a compelling story about what living in a single room with social interactions with just one person can do to the way in which a little boy views the world. Room is a story of the struggle of a kid coming to terms with how big the world is and how to be in that vast reality.
Room tells the story of Jack and his Ma who live in captivity in Room. The story is told from the point of view of five-year-old Jack who doesn’t mind his life in this one small room as it is all that he has ever known. In his eyes, they are the only ones who exist and things from Outside only exist when they come into the room. But the time comes when his Ma who has been kept in captivity for seven years can’t take their reality anymore as she is the one who has to deal with their captor, Old Nick, every night.
Jack’s world is turned upside down when his mother tells him that there is a whole other world Outside and that they don’t have to live in Room forever. They could escape. Jack becomes a confused little boy when his mother explains to him that the world in which he thought he lived in was a lie, that they are prisoners. Most of what he has seen on TV is real and is out there. It is then up to five-year-old Jack who has only ever spoken to his Ma to head out into that big scary world to save them both from Old Nick’s cruelty.
Emma Donoghue takes us on an emotional roller-coaster, a journey of discovery. This wonderfully crafted book delves into the psyche of a young boy who finds himself face-to-face with the world in the most confusing of circumstances. He and his Ma find themselves find themselves in a world in which neither of them have lived for the past seven years and where they become the centre of attention on the mass media. Donoghue paints a very vivid picture of what it is like to have to rebuild one’s life in a strange world, what it is like to rekindle relationships with one’s family after a long period of separation.
You can read the Goodreads summary of the plot here.
The whole book is told from the point of view of Jack and it is surprising how comfortably the author uses a childish vocabulary with typical mistakes that a five-year-old makes and still manages to deliver such a deep and heartbreaking story. The simplicity of the language does not put you off reading. It makes the story so much more realistic and believable. This novel really digs deep into how innocent children perceive their reality and how experiences contribute to their knowledge of the world.
Room was made into a film last year. The film has been nominated for many awards and has so far performed well. Having read the book it is no surprise that Brie Larson, who was cast as Jack’s mother, is up for so many best actress awards. The role of the mother in the book is key. Jack’s mother, who he refers to as Ma, is the centre of his world and she has worked so hard to keep him safe in such hard circumstances. She has created a world which he loves within the confinement of those four walls. She has “kept him in the dark” when it comes to their reality. She has done all that while she is fully conscious of the settings in which they live in.
All in all, Room is a moving story which delves into the psyche of a young boy who is not aware that there is a whole world outside of the reality in which he lives in and how he must put on a brave face when he finds himself face-to-face with a whole new world. Emma Donoghue delivers such a deep and meaningful narration with a gently crafted simple vocabulary that makes the story ever so more endearing and emotional. Room is a story of the love of a mother towards her son and her need to protect him and keep him safe in the midst of the harshness of the circumstances they have been forced to live in.
That’s a five star review from me.