Tuesday, June 14, 2011

{read: bestseller} Room by Emma Donoghue

This story is told by Jack, a five-year-old boy who's spent his entire life in one room because his mother was kidnapped. Two years into her captivity, she gives birth to Jack, and when he's five years old, she figures out a way for them to escape. But the outside world, for Jack, is a scary place. While Room was a prison cell for his Ma, it was Jack's only home. Life on the outside turns out to be more difficult than Ma had imagined, and Jack sometimes wishes they could return to Room. He misses their daily routines and different objects from their home, all of which have names.

Jack is an interesting character: He knows big words and can do more math than you'd expect a five year old to be able to do, but his social skills are understandably stunted since he's only ever interacted with his Ma. I think that choosing him to tell the story gave it a unique twist. I also liked watching Jack's growth, especially when he stayed with his grandma. She seemed to push him toward "normal" behavior more than his mother did. Of course, Ma had her own issues to deal with as a young 20-something mother who’d spent so many years locked up. Although Jack sees her as his all-powerful mother, in reality she is a fragile young woman who did the best she could under difficult circumstances. Her fragility becomes most evident after the escape, when she has a difficult time dealing with all the stresses of life and takes some drastic action.

Just out in paperback, this is a great read with a unique narrator. My book club has chosen it as an upcoming selection, and I’m looking forward to our discussion.

Room by Emma Donoghue (Little, Brown and Company, 2010)
My rating: 4 stars

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