Sunday, April 29, 2012

Room - Emma Donoghue

Read Mindy and Heather's reviews of Room.


Summary:  To five-year-old Jack, Room is the world.  It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn.  At night, Ma shuts him safely in his wardrobe, where Jack is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held for seven years.  Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space.  But Jack's curiosity is building alongside Ma's own desperation--and she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.

Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating--a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.  (Summary from back of the book and image from http://katrinastonoff.wordpress.com/)

My Review:  Room was engrossing, disturbing, fascinating, and educational.  The first half of the book was hard for me to plow through.  I found certain aspects dull and boring, and others simply disgusting and disturbing.  Jack's counting of the squeaks made me ill.  I won't elaborate here; if you've read it, you know what I mean.  There was so much to learn, so much to contemplate.  The second half of the book was absolutely intriguing.  (Warning!  Spoiler!)  Because the escape takes place half way through--thank heavens!--you learn so much about how a child would have to adapt to the outside world after being held captive in such a small space.  There were many aspects I hadn't even considered: Jack's reaction to stairs, his eye sensitivity to name just two. 

Donoghue did extensive research before writing the book (cannot fathom digging that deep into that kind of abuse).  It is a fictional account, but was inspired by real events.  Jack's voice is probably what made this book palatable for me as a reader.  His perspective is innocent, which makes the book is easier to swallow because you're not aware of all the dark and dirty that comes with such a horrible situation.

Jack's mother is my ultimate fictional hero.  She did her utmost to give him the best possible environment within her control, which wasn't much.  She isn't without fault, but her selflessness, her suffering, her desire to do only the best for her son was not only valiant, it was humbling.  I cannot even fathom her strength.

This is a fantastic book club selection--if your book club can stomach the subject matter. One of the biggest bones of contention we had during our discussion at book club was how Jack's maturity seemed to fluctuate, including his depiction of intelligence.  While it didn't seem too off base to me, there were many who felt there were times he was portrayed inaccurately.

While this book is told from a childlike perspective, it is an adult book.  I wouldn't recommend it to anyone but an adult.  The subject matter is disturbing, but what else could it be considering what Jack's mother lived through?

Rating: 3.75 stars

For the sensitive reader:  Knowing the premise, it should be obvious that there is rape involved in the story.  It is portrayed through the eyes of a 5 year old, therefore it is very innocent and benign.  Regardless, it's disturbing.

Sum it up: A story of abduction and abuse, but through the eyes of a son born in captivity.

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