Room by Emma Donoghue
Started: January 13, 2011
Finished: January 23, 2011
Format: Bought it on my Kindle
Read for my school Book Club
Goal: 3 of 25
I don't think Room is for everyone. This was a selection for our book club at my school, and I know some of my fellow readers found it disturbing and depressing. I found it haunting, heartbreaking, yet hopeful, and I have not been able to stop thinking about it since I finished Room, a brilliant book by Emma Donoghue. Told through the voice of five-year-old Jack, Room is his world--literally. I hesitate to write more because I don't want to give anything away for those who have not read it. So if you are intrigued about Room and haven't read it yet, stop reading this blog and start reading the book. Then come back to the blog and let me know what you think. Spoiler Alert for the rest of the blog: You've been warned!
Part of the brilliance behind Room is the element of mystery. Questions kept piling up as I first began: Why are Jack and Ma in this Room? Where is Room? Who is Old Nick? How have they survived this long? Jack's story unfolds until the harsh reality of their world suddenly emerges, and then--BAM. It still makes me shutter to think about it as Jack hid in Wardrobe and counted those creaks. Donoghue's use of detail is incredible. Capitalizing words like Door, Table, Bed--turning them into proper nouns because they were more than common objects to Jack; they became almost like people in his 11x11 world. Genius writing. In the beginning, I pictured Room as a quant, cozy space--even homey because I was picturing it through Jack's eyes. It wasn't until the end when they returned to the shed that I realized how horrific their conditions were.
What I cannot get out of my mind is the fact that Jack never left his Ma's sight--ever--for five years--which also means that Ma never got a "break" from being a Ma. I sympathized with Ma on the days when Jack said she was "Gone." Of course, she was not physically gone from Room, but mentally, she had to check out, and I get that. Yes, I think it was because she was in pain from her decaying tooth (I want to talk about why he sucked on the tooth all of the time when he was Outside--there is some deep meaning there), but I also think she had to do that so that she would not lose her mind. I admit that I am a much better mother when I am not around my children all of the time, and this makes me feel guilty. But what an incredible mother "Ma" is to Jack. I marveled at how this woman did her very best in the most desperate, horrifying circumstances to create a safe, loving, secure, stable environment for Jack. Even without the stimulation of the outside world, except for what he sees on television, Jack is a bright, loving, adorable boy; I fell in love with him.
My heart raced during "The Great Escape," which involved a rug, vomit, and Plan B. I had to put down my Kindle and walk away to get my blood pressure back to normal. Now that's the sign of a good book. The bravery that it took for Jack and his Ma to execute that plan astounds me.
I must admit that I wondered if Jack and his Ma were happier in Room, and that made me feel terrible. No, I don't think they were happier being held captive by an insane lunatic, but viewing the world for the first time through Jack's eyes made me think about our world in a different way. In fact, Jack offers some candid commentary on our society: especially about the way parents treat their children and how everyone seems so stressed. One of the most thought-provoking quotes from the book is when Dr. Clay says to Jack, "Now you're safe." Jack thinks, "I don't say because of manners, but actually he's got it backwards. In Room I was safe and Outside is the scary." My English teacher mind loves the irony.
Our Book Club meets tomorrow to discuss Room, and I'm excited about our discussion. This is a book I will not soon forget.