‘Room’ is a book by Emma Donoghue. It features Jack, a little five year old who lives with his Ma in Room. Room is where Jack has lived since birth; a soundproof space measuring 11 feet by 11 feet. He spends his days with his Ma watching TV, exercising, having a bath in Bath, playing games, having meals at set times, and sleeping in Wardrobe. He also waits eagerly for Sundaytreats. Which are brought by Old Nick. Old Nick who visits Ma at night while Jack is in Wardrobe and brings them groceries.
Unlike his Ma, this is the only world known to Jack. Some time after his fifth birthday, Ma reveals to Jack that Room isn’t the world. There is a whole world outside. As he tries to digest this information, Ma tells Jack about her history — how she was kidnapped by Old Nick and how she has made attempts to escape. All in vain. As Ma comes up with another plan to escape, she entrusts Jack to help her carry it out.
Will a 5 year old be capable of doing something she herself couldn’t?
Will Jack want to go Outside?
Will they escape?
And if they do, what lies in store for them? How will a boy who has grown up for 5 years with only his mother for company cope with the social demands Outside?
Will Ma cope with the Outside after herself being locked away for so long?
Will Old Nick get caught? Or will he catch them trying to escape?
To know this and much more, you have to read the book.
It’s a delightful book narrated from the point of view of 5 year old Jack. It makes you smile and feel fear at the same time. The world from Jack’s point of view is a funny weird and confusing place. At times, he is like any other five year old — he loves Dora, loves being read to and loves cuddling up with Ma. And yet, at other times, he is a boy who has an expansive vocabulary and is good with numbers and writing, thanks to Ma. The bond between Jack and Ma is extremely moving for the reader. The love he has for his Ma and the confusion when he gets angry with her. The way he deals with things when she is Gone in Room. The way in which she has protected him from Old Nick.
Emma Donoghue has done complete justice to this book. It’s amazing to read a book from a five year old child’s point of view. And so utterly believeable. Given that such horrors that Jack and Ma went through still continue to exist also makes it all the more heart-wrenching. It’s no wonder that this book was nominated for the Booker Prize last year. And it’s unfortunate it didn’t win. I think it is one of those books that’s different to the rest. After all, how many books do you read from such a young kid’s point of view? The world through his eyes is quite different from what we are all used to. And oh-so-captivating.
Until next time,