Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Room by Emma Donoghue
Having just re-read this book for my book group I thought I would put my thoughts down as this is a book that I feel should be read by everyone.
To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack's curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.
Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating--a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.
This is not a book that you can say you 'liked' as the subject matter is so unimaginable personally that, if there were not many recent real-life cases like this, you would almost say that it was not a realistic subject matter. As the saying goes there is "nowt as queer as folks" or "fact is stranger than fiction".
It would have been so easy for the author to go for the dramatic, easy win by detailing some horrific scenes in this book but, instead, she went for the simple story and left the detail to the readers imagination. This is the reason the book works so well. Having the story told from the eyes and in the voice of the five year old child, Jack, makes the reader think about the basic facts of the story rather than dwelling on particular graphic scenes.
The first time I read it was in February 2011 when my own child was 4 months old and while I thought it was a brilliant book then, I did not truly appreciate how well the author had written the language of the child. Now that my child is 19 months old, when I re-read the book I realised just how well she had captured Jacks' voice.
There are days when I get frustrated with having to occupy my child or think of what to feed her next and even times when I just want a moments peace and some time alone but having read this book it really does put it all into perspective. How would I feel having to do all of the above within an 11 foot square room with no help or people to talk to, apart from the child. I have heard the opinion that it would have actually been easier for Ma to raise Jack as there were less dangers and she had complete control over the external stimuli but that just does not sit right with me.
This book is well researched and hits just the right tone for me. It goes for the well written story rather than the graphic shock factor. It includes just the right amount of detail that I, personally, just would not have thought about, for example, giving Jack a cold when he was outside because he had never been exposed to any of those germs before - this just did not occur to me until it happened and I then had a "D'oh" moment!
So please give this book a read, it is a quick read anyway, and form your own opinion. On another note I did not like her other book "Slammerkin" as I felt it was a poor mans version of a Sarah Waters novel. I will give her another chance as I have "The Sealed Letters" on my tbr.
Happy (if one can use this word for this book) Reading.