Room by Emma Donoghue is without a doubt, the most thought provoking and intriguing book I have ever read. It is told from the perspective a child born in the room his mother was kidnapped and held prisoner in, the room also being the only world Jack has every known. The book is split into five parts parts, titled “Presents”, “Unlying”, “Dying”, “After”, and “Living.” It begins on Jack’s fifth birthday as the author leads us through a normal day in his life, which consists of different activities in the eleven by eleven foot room that is his home and prison. It is chilling to read it from his perspective, since for a portion of the novel, Jack is unaware of life outside the room. In his mind, most inanimate objects are considered proper nouns. For example, instead of saying, “I move my chair to the sink,” Jack goes to say, “I move my chair to Sink”. He also mentally puts things in two categories: Real Life and TV. Everything that he has witnessed in the flesh is Real Life. Everything Jack’s seen on television is TV, also fictional in his mind. Part of the book focuses on Jack’s world being turned upside down as his mother finally tells him her story, that she has been kidnapped and that there is life beyond the room. She has him help plan an escape as well. Another very moving portion of the novel is dedicated to Jack trying to learn and adjust to the social norms and how everything works in the outside world. The book is thrilling, stressful, suspenseful, but also surprisingly sweet as it explores a heart wrenching mother-son relationship. Room is a gripping page turner that will definitely force to reader to think how would I act in this situation?
Emma Donoghue used fairly simplistic language in the book, but she did a wonderful job of building up the stress and suspense levels. Sometimes she would use short, choppy sentences or repeat words multiple times in a phrase to create a well executed feeling of urgency. It was important that the story was narrated from the perspective of a five year old boy, because if it was told by his mother, it would lack that naive and innocent feeling that Jack’s character brought to it. The whole concept of of objects being proper nouns and even having a conscience and gender of their own in Jack’s mind was also extremely fascinating. The author did not use a large amount of literary devices, but that did not negatively impact the book in anyway.
Room is a good read for anyone looking for something for a deep, riveting novel. I would suggest it to more mature minds, especially since it was an emotionally draining read for me. I would also recommend it to the Honor’s English class, for sure. I believe our class would find it fascinating, and there are many aspects of it that would spark a discussion.