Emma Donoghue’s Room has been getting lots of buzz because the movie based on the book was released on the 16th (at least in the US). I actually discovered the book a few weeks ago and thought it sounded really interesting. It is based off of the true story of Elizabeth Fritzl, who was held captive in a basement for 24 years by her father, and bore him several children during that time. Definitely a tough subject, but I think Room handles it very well.
For five-year-old Jack, Room is his entire world. It’s where he and Ma eat, sleep, and play. It’s where he was born and where he grew up. And it’s where, every night, Ma shuts him away in Wardrobe, where he sleeps when Old Nick visits. To Jack, Room is home. To Ma, it’s the prison where she’s been kept for the last seven years. But now that Jack’s old enough, it’s time to escape. Ma devises a risky escape plan for her and Jack. She doesn’t realize how unprepared they are for the plan to actually work. Told Jack’s point of view, Room is a story about resilience and unconditional love between parent and child.
This book was incredible! I thought reading from the perspective of a five-year-old might be annoying, and in the hands of another writer, it probably would have been. But it’s not. Jack is smart and observant, and while he may not understand everything that’s going on, he doesn’t miss very much. And, personally, I think writing this story from a child’s perspective was pretty genius. It was definitely hard to read, because I identified not only with Jack and his childish thoughts and fears, but also with Ma, who is just trying to save herself and her son and give him as much of a childhood as she can.
Room is emotional and heartbreaking and full of hope. It tackles a very difficult subject – one which may be too much for some readers – in a unique way. It definitely made me cry, but I loved it. I’ve recommended it to several friends and family members, and all of the mothers refuse to read it. Though, I’d say if you can stomach watching the news, you’ll be okay.
I really enjoyed this book! I thought it was unique and interesting, and a great example of a writer getting inspiration from a tragic news story and turning it into something beautiful.
Get a copy of Room here!