Author: Emma Donoghue
Page Count: 361
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Original Publication Date: 2010
Genre(s): Realistic fiction, Adult, Contemporary
Jack’s whole world is Room. He was born in Room on Rug. He eats on Table. He cleans himself in Bath. He sleeps on Bed with Ma, but sometimes in Wardrobe when Old Nick comes to visit. Every day is the same for five years, until Ma asks Jack to be very brave — she wants to escape Room and never come back. But Jack is only 5 years old, and he doesn’t want to leave Room. He didn’t know there was anything outside of Room. Everything he thought he knew is a lie, and his whole world changes in the blink of an eye.
Have you ever wanted to read a book from the perspective of a child? Doesn’t sound like a good time, does it. Let’s make matters even worse – how about a 5-year-old who’s the product of rape and has never seen the outside of a shed since he was born? If you said YES to both of these questions, then bingo! This book is for you!
The book has an interesting premise — a woman was kidnapped when she was 19, repeatedly raped while held in captivity, and then gives birth to little Jack and raises him as best she can under such circumstances. It really does sound like a wild ride. And though I understand why the author chose to write in the POV of a 5-year-old, I can’t say it was a good choice. It was unique, sure, and it gave the book an extra element of suspense, but overall it just didn’t work. Reading 350+ pages through a child’s voice is almost torture. I wanted to DNF this book pretty bad, but I swore never to DNF a book ever again, so I pushed through it. It got better, I’ll say that. About ½ or ¾ of the way through, it got better, but not enough to redeem itself. The story was just like any other story about women being kidnapped and raped — the unique part was the perspective, and I just didn’t enjoy that bit, so it wasn’t really worth my time. I had such high hopes for this novel and was severely let down. I know there’s a film adaptation and I’m interested to see how well it translated to the big screen, so I may hunt it down purely out of curiosity, but I’d probably—no, definitely—never pick up the book ever again. I don’t mean to sound so harsh. I wanted to like this book! I wish I liked this book. But I’m not going to lie to you guys.
Jack is a frustrating little guy. I felt bad for the kid because he’s socially, emotionally, and intellectually stunted, but wow, he frustrated me to death. I couldn’t blame him, of course, but I did anyway. He wanted “to get some” (AKA drink his mother’s breastmilk) about every ten seconds, and with him being 5 years old, it really weirded me out. And through the whole novel he was always so confused and angry and annoying, because he’s a freaking kid and I’m being forced to read this story through his eyes and his mind, and uggggh – I’m so glad to be done with this book.
As for Jack’s Ma (you never learn her name…), she was alright. She’s superwoman for all she’s gone through, but towards the end she really cannot handle Jack at all. I mean, the two go through such a godawful trauma, and then she basically doesn’t want anybody to help her son acclimate at all. HE NEEDS HELP. And YOU need help. I don’t know. I know I’ll never understand her circumstance because it’s not just something you read about and understand. I’m just so frustrated at this point.
This is my first experience with Donoghue and I honestly don’t know how to talk about her writing because she wrote from the POV of a child. I can say that she perfectly captured a child’s mindset, and she kept some suspense through it all, so kudos to her for that. I’d like to judge her writing ability through another book, though — not this one.