Room is on almost every Best of 2010 list that I've seen...and it will probably be on my own as well.
I'm not sure I am able to give a synopsis of Room my own without giving something away, so go below and read that first. And then forget it and just go read the book.
I did not read the synopsis before I decided to read Room. Instead, I spoke to someone at Little, Brown about Room and begged her to send it to me, which she did. And then it sat on my shelf. I was afraid of what was inside. Why did I ask her to send me this book? I lie awake at night torturing myself about the horrible things that happen to children, why would I choose to read this book and torture myself even further?
Finally, it started creeping into the Best of 2010 lists, and I tried to talk myself into reading it. Last month, I presented it to my book club to read with me. Strength in numbers. We have yet to talk about it fully, but I am sure they can not deny that no matter how difficult the topic, the book itself was genius.
Before I write anything else, let me assure you of one thing. Jack, the boy, was not physically harmed in any way in this book. I wish someone had told me that before I picked it up...I would have had a lot less anxiety turning those pages. I hope I didn't ruin any of the tension for you, but I felt I had to put it out there.
Emma Donoghue wrote Room from the perspective of Jack, a five year old boy. This alone is a wonder. Everything to Jack is new. Everything we take for granted in our day-to-day lives...like a sidewalk...is foreign to him. His relationship with his mother is all he knows. Yet, we see so much through his eyes that would go unnoticed through our own. This is where the beauty lies.
Even though Jack is telling us his story, I read this book and really felt for Ma. She kept it together as best she could for Jack. She was his mother, his teacher, and his playmate, but no one could be expected to be strong each and every day for five years, not even for your son. She was only human...and some days she was barely human. When given the chance to be her own self, she felt guilty and Jack had a hard time letting her even take a shower by herself. My heart broke as much for Ma as it did for Jack. Yet, I don't think the story would have had the impact had it been written from any other perspective. Jack didn't understand...but we did.
You will be moved and you will not forget this book long after you put it down.
Synopsis: To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world....
It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. There are endless wonders that let loose Jack's imagination-the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells, the imaginary world projected through the TV, the coziness of Wardrobe beneath Ma's clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night, in case Old Nick comes.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it's the prison where she's been held since she was nineteen-for seven long years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack's curiosity is building alongside her own desperation—and she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely....
Told in the inventive, funny, and poignant voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience-and a powerful story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible.
About the Book: Room by Emma Donoghue
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; First Edition edition (September 13, 2010)
About the Author:
Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is a writer of contemporary and historical fiction whose novels include the bestselling Slammerkin, The Sealed Letter, Landing, Life Mask, Hood, and Stirfry. Her story collections are The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, Kissing the Witch, and Touchy Subjects. She also writes literary history, and plays for stage and radio. She lives in London, Ontario, with her partner and their two small children.
*Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. Thank you, Little, Brown!