24 November, 2013

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue [Anita, Blockhouse Bay Library]


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This book really gets in your head and stays there. It was definitely hard to put down, hence a late night for me. The whole book is told from the perspective of a five year old boy called Jack. It soon becomes apparent as he narrates his day and surroundings that he is the child of an abductee, and that his whole world consists of Room, which is a space 11 x 11 feet, with a locked door and a skylight. The most important thing in Room is his Ma. She has raised him to the best of her abilities and done her best to keep him from the attention of her kidnapper. At night Jack sleeps in the wardrobe to avoid encounters with him as he visits to bring supplies and use his mother. Each day is spent doing activities, playing games and doing reading and math activities with television as a reward. Everything is makeshift as there a few resources available.

Jack as a bright boy and as his mother becomes increasingly desperate about their situation they hatch a plan for escape, however when they have achieved this they both must adjust to life outside, which at first is utterly overwhelming. Up to now his Ma has been the only person in his life, Jack has to get used to new people, big spaces and new objects. Even stairs are unfamiliar and scary, so is rain. And now his mother often seems like a stranger to him. He longs for the familiarity of the things he knew in Room, while she would be happy never to see them again.

This is a beautifully written narrative, believably told and the fact that it was told from the child's point of view left out some of the possible disturbing aspects of his mothers treatment, (however these we can readily fill in for ourselves). I enjoyed the voice of Jack and the way he describes things, it is unsentimental, sometimes funny and very endearing.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010.

Title: Room: A Novel
Author: Emma Donoghue
ISBN: 9780330519014 (hbk.)
Published: 2010
Publisher: London: Picador

 - Anita, Blockhouse Bay Library

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