So far 2016 is shaping to be a pretty good reading year for me, with 7 books checked off my list already. Yes, there is still a long way to go but I think I’m on the right track as far as reading is concerned. For those who follow me on Instagram, you will know that I completed Room a few weeks ago and I LOVED it. I loved it so much that I gave it 5/5 stars on Goodreads, which hasn’t happened in a while for me. It took me some time to wrap my head around this book, which is why I am so horrendously late with my review! For that, I offer my sincerest apologies, but if you’ve read this book I am sure you understand where I am coming from…
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.
The story is narrated, in its entirety, by the energetic five-year-old Jack, which gives the reader the rare opportunity to see the world through the eyes of a child. I struggled at first to follow his thought pattern and it was difficult for me to understand what he was describing; but after a few pages it became easier. The complete innocence of Jack is what makes this book utterly compelling, and it is the sole reason I pushed through reading when it became extremely disturbing. The way Jack sees the ‘world’ was brilliantly captured by the author; it became easier to understand his train of thought as the story progressed, which was vital to me.
What really struck me throughout the story was how sheltered Jack was. He had no idea what horrors he (and more specifically, his mother) was actually facing on a day-to-day basis. Ma did a fantastic job of protecting Jack from the realities of the situation they found themselves in; allowing Jack to hold on to the innocence of a 5 year old boy. I’ve read a lot of reviews where people found Jack’s detachment of the situation to be a big factor in them not feeling emotionally connected to the story. I understood these troubles because it was something that bothered me too. But after accepting that the lack of emotion and awareness on Jack’s part is completely realistic; I realised that I didn’t need to know what Jack “should” be feeling because I felt it regardless. Yes it took away a really vital part of a book – being able to feel what the characters are feeling so that we can connect with their emotional state – but in this case we had to build it on our own, based on what Jack observes from his surroundings. In a world where children are exposed to more than what they ever should be, it is a beautiful thing that Emma Donoghue has allowed little Jack to hold on to his innocence through the protection of his mother.
Room was an extremely emotional read for me. It touched on a combination of very real issues, from the innocent view of a child; while allowing me to understand every other perspective too. Through the telling of the story I felt the need to be patient with the characters and read with a sense of compassion instead of judging their actions and feelings.
This book celebrates the unconditional, ever lasting bond between a mother and child; while facing the difficulties one would not even think exists, when your whole world changes far beyond what you thought you knew. A story about finding comfort under the most horrendous conditions, and the lengths a parent would go to protect their child. Room will shake you in ways you never thought possible, and you will come out a changed person on the other side. Read it. You will not be disappointed.