*Warning – spoilers!*
Room by Emma Donoghue has been on my Amazon wishlist for as long as I can remember. I can’t even recall what prompted me to put it on there, but I’ve had a hankering to read it for a good few months. So, when it was my turn to host our Book Club and I therefore got to choose the book, I just knew it had to be Room. I’ve also just found out it’s about to be released as a film – so now is the perfect time to read it!
The book was written in 2010 after the author heard about the Josef Fritzl case – where a guy held his daughter captive in his basement for 24 years and did all sorts of unspeakable things to her. Well, Room is a very similar idea.
Jack, a five year old boy, lives in Room with his Mother – Ma – and we learn how Ma has managed to bring her son up in this small space. He can read and write, they do exercise, they watch TV, they clean, they cook and Jack actually seems like a very well-rounded boy, even though he believes Room is the entire universe.
As Jack turns five, Ma decides that it’s time to escape because Jack is old enough to help out. She starts to make their captor, Old Nick, believe that he is ill – faking vomit and diarrhoea and heating Jack up so it seems like he’s running a temperature. As her plan unfolds, she teaches Jack his part – he has to pretend to be dead. She will roll him in ‘rug’ and ask Old Nick to bury him elsewhere.
As soon as Jack is out, he will escape from rug, run to the nearest person and tell them what has happened. Ma just has to hope he can raise the alarm before Old Nick comes back and punishes her.
To skip to the good bit, Jack escapes, he manages to alert someone, they get out and end up all over the news. Jack struggles to adjust to normal life, meeting his extended family and spending any time away from his Ma. Ma also has a pretty hard time and tries to top herself (gosh the laughs just keep on coming don’t they). She survives and eventually manages to live a normal life with Jack. And that’s kind of where the book ends.
What Did I Think?
We all agreed the ending was a bit of a damp squib – although I’m not sure how else it could have all rounded off to be honest.
The way the book is told from Jack’s perspective is the real master stroke of the novel – I am sure it would be nowhere near as interesting if it was told from Ma’s perspective. The narrative comes from Jack’s unknowing, naive, child’s eyes, which can be a bit strange as you start to read, but you soon fall into his patterns of speaking and his way of seeing the world.
It’s not exactly a barrel of laughs, but it’s a well-paced page turner that I would still recommend as a good one to get stuck into!
Have you read Room? What did you think?