…by Emma Donoghue.Narrated by five year old Jack, this is the story of his life with his Ma. The story starts with Jack’s fifth birthday and gains momentum right away with Jack describing everything around him and the way he spends his days. Both of them live in captivity in a tiny soundproof room – while Ma has lived in the world outside before she was kidnapped several years ago and yearns to get back to it someday, Jack has lived all five years of his life in the room and knows nothing about the world that exists outside. Jack and Ma spend their days cooking, eating, exercising, watching TV, reading, and sleeping with the limited supplies available to them. For Jack, the real world is his Ma, the room and whatever is in the room…everything else he sees on TV he thinks is not for real.
After his fifth birthday, Ma decides that he is old enough to know the truth and tells him about how she was tricked and kidnapped by this person they call “Old Nick” and how there exists so much outside the room that Jack doesn’t know of. It takes some time for Jack to digest the big truth he’s just learned from Ma – that some things he sees on TV exists for real, that there are people on the outside who are related to Jack, that the room is just a tiny part of the world. Ma also tells him that all her attempts to escape from the room over the years have gone vain and that they can give it another chance if Jack helps with the escape idea. With his doubts and fears, Jack agrees to go with Ma’s plan.
What is their plan? Does it work? Do they escape? Does Jack see the real world? What happens next? You’ve got to read the book to get your questions answered.
What a delightful feeling it is to read something from a five year old’s point of view! And how emotionally draining it was to know that two people were held captive for years for no fault of theirs and were denied all the joy that they deserved.
To see how the little guy gets excited about Sunday treats that they request from “Old Nick”, to imagine the plight he goes through when he learns the world is not just the room, to try to understand his feelings and to see how he adjusts when Ma is in one of those moods when she doesn’t want to talk or play or do anything, to appreciate his bravery when he accepts to play along with Ma’s plan to escape – is to embark on a beautiful journey that will leave the reader smiling and welling up at the same time.
I was left speechless when I read how Ma, even with only little available to nourish her child physically and intellectually, does everything in her power to keep him engaged, to educate him on necessary topics, to teach him good from bad, to safeguard him from the man that is keeping them in the room, making the best use of an unbearable situation – a mother’s selfless love pours through.
Overall, reading Room is a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed – a riveting, poignant tale.
My rating: 5*.
*for the rating scale, click here.