Room

Room by Emma Donoghue.

Post by Kate from Southport Branch Library.

Room is the story of Jack, a 5 year old boy who lives in a single room with his mother and has never been outside. Room is eleven feet by eleven feet, has a skylight and a locked door. Jack loves watching TV, and the cartoon characters that he calls his friends, but he knows that nothing he sees on screen is truly real – only him, Ma and the things in Room. When Jack starts to ask questions his mother reveals that there is a whole world outside Room…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book despite it not being something that I would normally pick up and read myself (I normally read romantic suspense fiction not literary fiction). I chose this book at an event at the Southport Library – “Blind date with a book”, so I did not have a clue what I was choosing, but the librarians assured me the last person that read it said it was their “book of the year”.

Room is told entirely from the point of view of 5 year old Jack. Donoghue does not give away all the information straight away, leaving you to wonder why Jack is sleeping in Wardrobe. Gradually you find out that Jack’s Ma was abducted when she was 19 and has spent the last 7 years captive in Room. Jack and Ma keep strict meal times, have “phys ed” and limit the amount of TV they watch so their brains don’t turn to “mush”. Ma also receives visits from Old Nick most nights while Jack sleeps in Wardrobe.

While this description sounds depressing, I promise you it isn’t. Being told through Jacks point of view allows the story to not become too macabre and instead makes it a story of hope. Some of my favourite moments in the story come when Jack is learning how to adjust to the world outside. Simple things that we take for granted, like climbing up and down stairs and understanding that there is not only one of each item are a huge adjustment for Jack and take time.

Audrey Niffenegger of The time traveller’s wife fame has said that Room is “a book to read in one sitting”, and while I didn’t quite manage that, I would not hesitate to recommend this book to one and all, regardless of your genre preference.