A woman of 18 years gets kidnapped, swiftly put into a van, and transported to a small room. The woman is miserable and tries everything she can do to escape, but nothing works. When she gets pregnant with the kidnapper’s child, her life is changed. She has a new reason to live, and from this point on, her life is devoted to raising her son, Jack. Everything she does from this point forward is for Jack. When Jack turns five years old, he finds out that there is more to the world than inside this room. He learns of his mother’s kidnapping, and his mother realizes that she could use Jack to find a way to escape. After lots of preparation, Jack pretends to die and he’s carried out of the room, then runs to get the two of them help. Soon enough, Jack and his mom are out in the world again. This is a book about adjusting to the world around you, and figuring out where you really belong.
I really enjoyed this book! Room was all told in Jack’s point of view, so you find out what is happening at the same time and way he does. I thought it was really interesting that the book was chosen to be written this way. I thought that Room didn’t have a very satisfying ending, and that it could have been wrapped up in a better way. Over all, I was really captivated by this book and would definitely recommend it!
Rating: I would give this book four stars
Recommendations: If you enjoyed this book, I would recommend: Speak, I Am Malala
Room tells the story of Jack and “Ma” trapped in a soundproof garden shed prison by “Old Nick,” who abducted Ma from her college campus. Since age 19, Ma has spent seven years in captivity, dependent on “Old Nick” for her survival and subject to his serial rapes. With Jack’s birth, Ma finds herself dedicated to his survival, and consequently her own. Five year old Jack narrates the story, and he has spent his entire life in “Room,” so it comprises his world. They do watch some TV, so Jack has some idea of the world beyond “Room,” but he believes it is all as fictional as the fairy tales he reads with Ma. Ma hasn’t forgotten the outside world, and she longs to return to it, so she hatches a desperate plan to escape, and she convinces Jack to play a lead role in her plot. Will they finally escape the clutches of “Old Nick”?, and if they succeed, will they be prepared for the trauma of reentering the world?
Room captured and kept my interest from start to finish, and I’m sure I held my breath and gritted my teeth as I read through the most suspenseful sections. Getting the story from Jack’s limited perspective forced me to infer both past events recounted and present events described. Some readers express frustration with the child narrator, but I found his innocence created an extra layer of suspense as I worked to discern fantasy from reality. While I liked the first half a bit more than the second, I found Room an inventive and engaging book.
Summary: Room, told entirely by five-year-old Jack, follows the lives of a mother and her son trapped in a small, windowless shed in the backyard of their captor, a man called Old Nick. To Jack, who was born in Room, Room was just Room and it was the only world he had ever known, but to his mother, it was a confined cell, isolated from the outside world, away from her family and friends, and the customs of normal life. Despite the hardships of their situation, Jack’s mother strived to make the best life possible for Jack and herself, though she knew they couldn’t live like that forever. As soon as possible, she formulated an escape plan that depended almost completely on Jack’s courage, hope and fate to get them out of the enclosed dungeon into what for Jack was a completely unfamiliar, enormous new world…(SPOILER ALERT: Stop reading unless you want to learn about the ending of the book!…) Risky as it was, the scheme miraculously worked. However once the two were in the outside world, a “normal” lifestyle presented them with many challenges. Still traumatized as a result of years of social isolation and sexual abuse of her captor, Jack’s mom had a hard time readjusting. At first, having no experience with the outside world, Jack had a very hard time adjusting too, and longed to return to Room, where everything was just his and his Ma’s and it was less complicated and stressful. Though adjustment was difficult for both Jack and his mother, as the time went on, they slowly eased into the culture of the world whose existence was merely a fantasy months before.
The interesting thing about this book is that is it told from Jack’s perspective, someone who has never experienced anything but Room, what he thinks is the only “real” thing in the world. He is content in Room, considering it is all he knows. This makes the reader consider his situation and how strange it would be for a person, especially a child, to live this way for such a long time. The experience for Jack’s mom, who was living a completely normal life and then one day was plucked up off the streets and held captive in a windowless, concrete prison, is horrifying and nearly unimaginable. The fascinating thing about the book, though, is how Jack’s mom endures the pain of the situation and makes Jack’s life as enriched and full as possible. This book is very thought provoking and explores themes of connection, love, and discovery. Emma Donoghue does a fantastic job of communicating the real-world, scary issues of imprisonment through the naïve and innocent eyes of a five-year-old, a challenging task to execute well.
Recommendations: The Graveyard Book, The Sealed Letter, A Stolen Life: A Memoir