Book Nerd Review by Sarahjane
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.
ROOM appears to be a topic of debate on GoodReads at the moment, this book appears to be like Marmite, either love it or hate it, and when the waters surrounding a book are as muddied as this, I just had to get me 2 cents.
ROOM inspired by the Josef Fritzl case is Donoghue’s seventh novel that was long listed for the Booker prize. Now, I personally tend to avoid books that are in contention for these prizes, as I associate these prizes with snobbery. These are books that out there in the world of journalism, a critic found profound or enlightening in some way and caused the mass populace to want be more philosophical and profound too, and so they read this novel, or pretend too, and really, yes the book may have some moments but it gets so widely discussed and the conversations become so praiseworthy, you expectations aren’t matched. Or on the other hand; if it's a book that people pretend to read the discussions get so convoluted its down right off putting. The fact that this was up for a Booker prize is probably the cause of such the disagreements in regards to this book.
The first half of the book takes place within a 12-foot-square room in which a young woman has spent the last seven years, since being abducted at the age of 19, being raped repeatedly. She has a 5 year-old son, whom it is clear; she spends all her mental energy on to teach, nurture and entertain, thus preserving her own sanity. It is through Jack, that the story is told. Which in my opinion was a brave and risky decision to make. In choosing a 5 year old to narrate such harrowing and sensitive material, is extremely confining. He may be smart, but he has no glue of the adult themes and consequences, and to be honest a book told by a 5 year old. It’s not appealing, 5 year olds can be annoying and confusing…why read a whole book in the perspective of someone who in their very essence should wear us down? These arguments I can understand.
But I by no means agree. Yes at times I found Jack annoying, but an ideal perfect 5 year old is unheard off, so if he were not slightly annoying I would not believe in his character. What is more, is this is a shocking topic to write about and explore and I believe that if I were or any writer were to readdress the issue, the would have to dive in head first and cause the biggest shocks possible, and then maybe they stood a faint chance of conveying the hardships of such a situation. Jack is the way that Donoghue does this, and it works. A 5 year counting the creaks the bed makes, while his mother hides him in a closet, the fact that he is still breast fed, let alone his whole naivety to the world in general…it emphasises the total wrongness, the utter despicableness of the situation. It made me feel angry, it made me want to do something…it made me feel totally bereft for these characters.
Life after ROOM lacks the emotional intensity of the first half, but their out, and its all about them adapting. And again Jack acts in a completely believable way, for a kid who though that grass was make-believe for 5 years is mind boggling, and he was inquisitive about this brand new world. It was aspiring to see him try and come to terms with this whole new life, but at the same time miss his only home in the only world he knew….
Donoghue had to walk a very thin line when writing this, and I think she needs to be commended for toeing the line so carefully to such a great extent. But that is my opinion, and If your reading this review thinking of reading this book, but in the back of your mind is that other review where it was awarded a lonely star, I urge you to ignore everything that they and I have said. If you’re thinking of reading this book, go ahead. Pick it up and read it, form your opinion. You never know, it might just hit a chord.
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