Room by Emma Donoghue
All I’d heard about Room before beginning to read it was that it was devastating, emotional, and thought-provoking. After having read it, I only really found it one of those things.
Maybe I was just numb, as, after all, the events that the novel covers are truly horrific, but I honestly did not think it lived up to the expectation that surrounds it. I’m almost darkly fascinated with real-life events like the ones covered in Room, so maybe I was expecting something a little bit more like something out of a True Crume drama film.
Room is told from the perspective of five-year-old Jack, a boy who has lived, for all of his life, in a single locked room with his mother. Through his eyes, we see his childlike innocence at the world Outside, and the world Inside. Of course, having only his mother to learn from, his understanding of our world is a little skewed, but remarkably perceptive for a boy that young.
Having a five-year-old sister, I can safely say that Jack is incredibly unrealistic. My sister is neither that articulate or that understanding, and she’s been living in the outside world. Some of the things he says, such as when he’s describing Room, echo more of the attitude and understanding of a seven or eight year old.
His mother, Ma, is seen entirely through the eyes of her son. What I really liked is how, despite the book being told through the eyes of Jack, we can see that she is more than a mother. She’s a fucking brilliant mother, but she’s more than just his caregiver. As we learn more and more about her past, we understand what she’s gone and is going through, and we begin to understand just how remarkable she really is.
I would recommend this book to anyone that likes fast paced, absorbing novels that are disturbingly too close to real life. It took me about four hours to read this book, in total, and although I read fast, it is easy to read.
I can see why this book was nominated for so many prizes, but I can also see why it didn’t win. Whilst it is definitely thought-provoking, the absurdity of the five-year-old’s narrative (in the sense that he definitely doesn’t seem his age) makes it a little hard to take completely seriously.
Of course, the gravitas of the scenario Donoghue places us in is incredibly serious, but I feel like she could have done better at bringing it closer to our world, and away from the world of the story.
But I digress. Those are my thoughts about Room. After owning it for a good few months, I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.