Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

When I first started reading Room by Emma Donoghue, I threw my head back to stare at the bus ceiling several times.

The story is told from a 5 year old boy's perspective, (Jack).  The first paragraph was cute;
'Today I'm five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five, abracadabra. Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero. "Was I minus numbers?"' 
But as I continued to read, I started praying that the entire book wasn't written in this basic infantile internal monologue.

I'm not sure when I became more comfortable with Jack's narration, but somewhere in the second chapter, I became hooked.

Jack and his Ma live in a tiny room with bare essentials, where it soon becomes clear that they are being held captive.  Jack was born in this room and therefore knows nothing of the outside world.  Ma, however, tries to keep Jack active and entertained day after day in an 11 x 11 foot room... all the while planning an escape and trying to remain sane.

I quickly became engrossed in the two very different perspectives of Ma and Jack and found myself getting annoyed or angry with each of them at several points in the book.  So much so, that I had to make myself stop reading to figure out why I was so annoyed that Jack couldn't understand that trees or airplanes really do exist.

Once they finally escaped the room, Jack's mother was criticized by the public and media for how she had handled the situation.  While Ma was trying to figure out her way around a world that changed so drastically in the seven years of her captivity, Jack was trying to handle all of the outside noise and stimulation that he never experienced inside Room.

I haven't read a more captivating and enjoyable book in years.  Emma Donoghue has quickly soared to the top of my favorite authors list.

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