Friday, March 11, 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
ISBN: 9780316098335
Publisher: Little Brown & Company

Quick Review: The poignant and heart-wrenching story of Jack, a five-year old boy who’s never been outside of Room, where he and Ma live. Jack and Ma’s story shine through in this tale of a mother’s love for her son, and a son’s devotion to his mother.
“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.” So begins the beautifully simple narration of Emma Donoghue’s Room. Jack, our precocious narrator, is excited to be five. For Jack, all that exists is what’s in Room. The world outside, the world he sees on TV, isn’t real. The only other person is Old Nick, the old man who visits Ma at night when Ma makes Jack sleep in Wardrobe.
            As the story unfolds, readers quickly realize what Jack is too young and innocent to understand: his mother has been held prisoner in this room since before he was born. Desperate to protect Jack from the knowledge that they’re trapped and have no way to leave the locked, sound-proof room, Ma has told Jack a simple yet profound lie: the world outside does not exist. Just after his fifth birthday, Jack is shocked when Ma reveals the truth to him: much of the world he sees on TV is real. No, not Dora the Explorer, but other people, stores, and forests are all real. It’s up to Jack to enact the daring escape plot Ma forms. Faking his own death, Jack is rolled up in a carpet and taken out of Room for the first time in his life.
            Upon rescue from the room, Jack and Ma begin life in a hospital. Jack is confronted with expressions he’s never heard and concepts he’s never known. As he struggles to understand that he can now have possessions that are his own and don’t belong to Ma, he watches in confusion as Ma copes with media attention and reuniting with the family he never knew existed.
            Though told entirely through Jack’s simple, innocent narration, Room presents readers with the story of what happens after rescue. Ma struggles to readjust to a world she’s been isolated from for the better part of a decade while simultaneously dealing with a press captivated by the story and a son who wants to return to the only home he’s ever known, Room. Ma’s inner struggles, though not understood by Jack, are presented in a way that is both beautiful and tragic. How do you explain to a child the lies he’s been told his whole life? How do you explain to others the reasons for those lies?
            Readers will adore Jack and admire his and Ma’s courage. Donoghue has captured a child’s voice in a way that is disarming, and at first almost eerie. Even the simple phrasing of his questions fit perfectly with the way a child speaks and thinks. Though the plot may be dark in its premise, ultimately Room is a beautiful story of a mother and child, their love for one another, and the sacrifices a parent will make for the sake of a child.

---Kyla Paterno

No comments:

Post a Comment