Big thanks to Savannah for contributing this guest review of Emma Donoghue’s Room.
Room haunted me for days after I had finished it. A profoundly disturbing premise, it was mostly affecting because it could be real. The story is told from 5-year-old Jack’s perspective. Jack is living in an 11 by 11 foot room with Ma, the only person he has interaction with. Everything he sees in Room is everything he knows. He is under the impression that Room is everything; there is no outside, there is no world, no nature or other girls and boys. There is just Jack and Ma. The story captures you right from the beginning because it leaps into just how sheltered Jack is about the world, and just how deranged their living situation is. It implores you to wonder how could anybody live like this. Jack’s Ma had been captured and raped and held prisoner in Room, to her a living nightmare. She keeps Jack happy by inventing multiple games and tasks for them to do during the day; math, exercise, crafts and cooking, amongst many other things.
Finally the time comes where Ma cannot stand it any longer; she starts to reveal to Jack that there is a real world out there; an outside, real people and things to do. There is so much to tell, so many rules to break and to explain it to innocent five-year-old Jack is nearly impossible and frustrating. Once she realizes how much she has held back from Jack, the more Ma knows they have to get out of Room.
What was most impressive and interesting about this book was the intricate world that Ma had built for herself and Jack, no details were left out, all horrors were brought to the surface and a real life situation is unveiled. Suspenseful, disturbing and enthralling this story of survival and circumstance is a fascinating read to the very end. I highly recommend this book to sophisticated readers who will enjoy a painfully truthful and entertaining ride that doesn’t hold back.