Room

For Christmas, I was given the book ROOM, by Emma Donoghue. This book is a quick read, and is a fictionalized account of an unfortunately relevant topic.

The story is that of a young woman who is kidnapped and then held hostage in a backyard shed by her kidnapper. She eventually has a child by her attacker, and the story is that of the mother and son, first in “the room,” and then in the outside world– the twist is that the story is all from the perspective of the 5 year old boy. This story closely mirrors the true story of the Jaycee Dugard case.

Donoghue’s voice for Jack, the son, is wonderful. He has a beautiful, simple and completely unique way of looking at the world around him. The view also keeps the story, while awful, a bit more tame. Since we are seeing things through Jack’s eyes, we as readers may know what is actually happening, but his view is uninformed and child-like. One of the interesting things in the story is the way in which “Ma,” as Jack calls her, tells Jack that only the things in their 11×11 room are “real,” everything else is “TV.” So Jack believes that he is the only real little boy in the world, and has a hard time when his mom does eventually try to explain to him that there is a world beyond their room.

Reality for a little boy in this world, the only one he’s ever known, is vastly different than the reality for his mother. And this often puts them at odds when they eventually escape. (I promise this doesn’t ruin the book… there is so much more that occurs once this happens.) The book also did a wonderful job of describing the media frenzy that surrounds these type of events. While some of it is warranted, the effect on the people involved is often drastic. It also covers the norms that our society puts on new mothers, and mothers in general. And how deviation from the status quo is often viewed in such negative light, even in this case, where the situation is so far from typical.

Pros: Quick Read, Unique Perspective, Engaging Story

Cons: Not many, the only thing I can really think of is that occasionally I felt like Jack’s voice kept me from seeing his mother’s true experience. We get his perception of it, but this cannot capture the years of abuse she endured, not only while he is with her, but also before he was born.

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