Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Review: Room, by Emma Donoghue

"I think 'buddy' is man-talk for 'sweetie.'" - Room (approximate quote)

Jack is five. He lives in Room with Ma and Table and Bed and Rocker and Door, plus a few other things. Room is 11 feet by 11 feet, and beyond it is Outside. There are things that are real (Room), and everything else is TV (stores, ice cream, cars, etc). Jack has to "switch off" before Watch says 9:00 inside Wardrobe each night in case Old Nick comes. One day, Ma tells Jack that some of the things (not Dora and Spongebob, but some things) in TV are real, and they need to escape.

This book is terrifying. This book is heart-breaking. This book is amazing.

I first read about it on NPR, and when I mentioned it to my dad, he said "Tell me they get out. I don't care what actually happens, just tell me that they get out." (Spoiler- they do. In fact, the last half of the book takes place Outside as both Jack and his mother try to adjust.)

Sharon (Ma) actually does a really impressive job raising him in such an environment. I don't want to go into too much detail about what actually happens, because part of the book's greatness is slowly discovering all of the little details of their life, and then later all of the details of our lives that a five year old raised in near-solitary confinement wouldn't take for granted.

It's written entirely from Jack's perspective, and it's written that way very, very well. (I grew up 100 yards from a highway, so his narration reminds me of how for the longest time when I was little there was the Sound of Outside, and then for some reason when we went other places Outside was quieter.)

What I loved about it even more, though, is that Sharon's own difficulties and worries were not ignored, even though they were incomprehensible to her son.

Room: A Novel is not a book for people who prefer light-hearted things. I highly recommend it to everyone else. It's very serious, of course, but Jack's narration combined with both his and Sharon's (re)discovery of the world (particularly the scene in which she discovers Facebook and YouTube) makes it funny and relatable as well.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book too! Really amazing the way it is written. I loved Ma's way of coping and explaining the world in Room. She was amazing in the way she protected him and made Room seem as as "normal" as possible.


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