Room by Emma Donoghue (Little, Brown and Co., 2010, 336pp.)
All his life, Jack has lived in the peace and solitude of Room, a place with no windows but the one skylight in the roof, and no doors except the one with a keypad that requires a code in order for it to open. His constant companion is his mother, known to the reader as “Ma.” To him, their life is a perfect one. They pass the time with domestic routines, games, and telling stories. All they need is each other, he thinks. That and Old Nick, of course. He’s the one who brings them food and clothes when they need them. But he only comes at night. Then one day, Ma tells Jack a new story, one about herself, explaining how she was brought against her will to Room by Old Nick seven years ago. The novel isn’t about their captivity, however, so much as it’s a story about a mother and son. Donoghue uses this situation to highlight their relationship by using five-year-old Jack as the narrator. His innocent child’s voice rings true throughout the novel, though due to the rambling, distracted nature of the prose, it can be hard to plow through at times. The author also presents an interesting dilemma: when Jack finally does encounter the outside world, he finds it confusing and unpleasant. He wants to stay in Room where it’s “safe,” despite the reality that his mother has been held against her will. In this case, is more harm done than good? The answer is entirely up to the reader.
Click on cover for image source.
- Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks