‘It’s all real in Outside, everything there is, because I saw an airplane in the blue between the clouds. Ma and me can’t go there because we don’t know the secret code, but it’s real all the same.
Before I didn’t know to be mad that we can’t open Door, my head was too small to have Outside in it.’
Room was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize 2010, and it’s easy to see why.
After hearing about 5 year-old Felix in the Fritzl case, Emma Donoghue wrote this work of fiction loosely based on the events.
Narrated by 5 year-old Jack, we learn about his life in ‘Room’ with his Ma. Jack was born in Room, and doesn’t understand that there is any more to the world than the 11 x 11 square foot hole that they live in. They spend their days exercising, watching television, and playing games. Jack’s vocabulary is obviously limited, so the book has a jarring disjointed quality to the writing, which only adds to the horror that you feel as a reader knowing what’s really going on. They are ‘looked after’ by ‘Old Nick’ who occasionally brings them food, and goes to bed with Ma while Jack sleeps in the wardrobe. They are locked in via a combination lock, and when Old Nick loses his job, Ma decides that she is desperate enough to set a plan in motion…
As you would expect, this is a pretty harrowing story to read. Emma does a really great job portraying the story from Jack’s point of view, which only serves to pull on the heartstrings of the reader all the more.
My only criticism, was about one aspect of the story. The breast-feeding which continued all the way through, even during points when the situation wasn’t as desperate, made me feel exceptionally nauseous. I assume it was the author’s intention for the reader to view the mother in this light, as it made me feel that ‘Ma’ wasn’t at all well in the head – which presumably would be the case after years of imprisonment.
I thought it was a brilliant novel, but definitely not something I could read a second time around.
Original Book Girl