To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another
I’ve heard really great things about this book and it was my mum who encouraged me to read it next. We tend to agree on books so I was eager to start it and was very much intrigued by the unusual storyline and the fact it was written by a 5 year-old. Room is about a boy called Jack and his Ma who live in a single room. It’s 11×11 ft. and all they have is the necessities to survive however it wasn’t their choice to live like this. As the book progresses, you find out more about life in Room, how they came about living there and it’s an unsettling story of love between a mother and her child, bravery and keeping things from those you love in order to protect them – in this case, the entire world beyond your own walls.
I’m just going to come out and say it, I struggled with this book. Mainly the narrative. A 5 year-olds point of view is very difficult to get to grips with and although Emma did a fantastic job in making it seem real and convincing, it was hard to follow. Jack calls the things in Room just by the noun. It’s not ‘a chair’ or ‘the chair’ it’s just ‘Chair’ to him and although this is done because it’s all his ever known, for me, the reader, it was off putting. In fact, I found it hard to sympathise with the characters in general which inevitably made me feel like a monster considering the nature of the story but Jack’s naivety and unwillingness to accept anything his mothers tells him, despite being what the story is about, just irritated me after a while if I’m honest. The storyline was an interesting one. If you’re after something a bit different then this is definitely for you but as its written from Jack’s POV, I definitely felt like it limited the amount of information that could have been included. I would have liked to have found out more about Old Nick, the man keeping them prisioner. Why he done what he done, his motives and intentions, whether he’d done it before, whether he was mentally unstable – just something, not the fact that Jack needed to pee or every time he counted his teeth.
It’s a disturbingly weird book and despite everything I just said, I’m in no way disappointed with it – I’m disappointed in myself for not getting from it what was intended. Credit to the author for a uniquely fascinating story idea, for tackling deep, dark issues and not being afraid to try something that’s not been done before but it just wasn’t for me. Don’t let that put you off trying it for yourself because I can completely understand why this book has so many 5 star reviews, despite the fact that this isn’t one. I’m sure there was a lot of underlying messages in this book but I was so distracted by everything else I couldn’t really pinpoint any. However, one thing I will take away from this book is not to take the little things for granted and it was when Jack said, ‘The world is always changing brightness and hotness and soundness, I never know how it’s going to be the next minute’, that made me realise how right he is. We often don’t notice these little changes in the world because we’re so used to them but we should try and appreciate things like it’s the first time we’ve ever experienced them.
You can find Room and Emma Donoghue on the following links: