Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue made several “Best of 2010” book lists, and won numerous awards, which you can read more about at Donoghue’s web site if you are so inclined. So you know it’s well-written, and perceived well by those whose opinions matter.

And I am apt to go along with their opinions. Room, which is the story of 5-year-old Jack and his mother, who are imprisoned in a small room by a man who kidnapped and continues to rape his mother, fathered Jack, and now brings in the basics the duo need to survive. The story of their life is told through Jack’s point of view, which, in addition to being the voice of a child, is the voice of someone who has an extremely narrow exposure to life. All he knows is what is in the room and what he is able to see on T.V. He assumes anything not in the room is T.V.

Jack’s mom is extremely protective of him, and never lets her captor see his face. During his visits, Jack is holed up in a wardrobe (closet?) but is still able to hear what is happening in the room.

Jack and his mother plan to escape, and the story follows what happens to them afterward – physically and mentally. It affects them both in different ways. After being in the Room for so long, it’s hard to adjust to the world outside.

Room has moments of tender emotion, and other moments of utter horror. It is a complex story made even more complex by its storyteller who is not equipped to deal with the reality he faces, and not sure how to explain it.

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