Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

I read this book a couple of months ago, but never reviewed it.  Since I am still reading the book I was last week (got distracted by a couple of projects) I thought I'd take the time to review this one. 

Room by Emma Donoghue is a contemporary novel written in a very unconventional way.  They story is a sadly familiar one.  A young girl is kidnapped and held as a sex slave to a heartless and ruthless man.  We've seen this story in the headlines over the years and it is very sad.  What is sadder is that this story includes another victim.  A five-year old boy named Jack.  This is his story, not his Ma's story.  The narrator of this book is Jack and I found him to be a sweet endearing boy who only understands that his entire world is a room the size of an average child's bedroom (about 144 square feet).  This is all Jack knows of the world. 

There are parts of him that remind me of Samson.  He's never cut his hair, so this young boy has very long hair. And he believes he has the strength of a thousand men even though he clearly understands fear, he is willing to put it aside for his Ma.  However, I don't believe he truly gains or understands his strength until he cuts his hair.

And then there's Ma to consider.  Ma has spent the past seven years as a prisoner to Old Nick.  She has done everything she can think of to protect Jack from Old Nick and to protect Jack from the small world in which he was born.  She uses all her energy and all her strength until it gets to be too much.  She suffers from toothaches and headaches and clearly depression.  She's at the mercy of Old Nick to give her the things she needs, knowing what it will cost her.

As depressing as this book seems, there is hope in it.  There is perseverance.  There is love.  It is such a well-written book, that I almost believed at times that the book was really written by a five-year old little boy who had always been kept in a small locked cell for his entire life.  I enjoyed watching Jack explore his world and describe it.  There were times that I was angry with Ma because of the lies that she told Jack, but I questioned what I might do in the same situation and realized it would be much the same.  I would tell lies to my child in order to make sure he felt safe and loved. 

This book has been out for a while and I'm glad to see that it is still a popular read.

Currently reading:  The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

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