Review of Room: A Novel

Review of Room: A Novel

By: Jex Ballard

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue

Summary: To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. 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 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. (Taken from Goodreads)

Review: Imagine a tool shed converted into living space. A small room with a bed, closet, toilet, bath, kitchen, and no windows. Now imagine growing up in this space not knowing that anything existed outside of its walls. This is how Jack was raised. He was born in captivity. At the age of five his mother decided it was time for Jack to know the truth. There was an entire world beyond the walls of “room” and it was time for them to make their great escape and join the rest of the world.

Room follows the heart wrenching story from captivity to freedom from the perspective of five-year-old Jack. Every thought, every feeling, every vision is that of a child’s. Donoghue does an excellent job of never breaking character as the reader never sees or hears anything that Jack doesn’t see or hear himself. At first, this writing style was bit tricky to get used to as we don’t always think the way a five-year-old does, but lucky for us, Jack is extremely advanced for his age so the writing doesn’t feel dumbed down to fit the style.

Through Jack and his mother’s escape the author shows the reader the drastic difference in recovery and adaptation between a child and an adult. Jack’s mother strives to become who she once was before the incident while Jack doesn’t understand why “room” was such a bad place or why he has to learn all these new things. Jack has trouble coping with what is real or fake, good or bad, and really doesn’t seem to like all the open spaces. It’s weird to think that he grew up without so many things that we take for granted such as fresh air, windows, other people, potato chips, cars, playgrounds, family, etc. He’s never even been exposed to enough germs to give him the common cold! (Although I’m sure many of us wouldn’t mind living without that little thing.)

All-in-all, Donoghue really stepped out of the box with this novel and made me really think about how different a child is affected by a crime like this vs an adult that’s been through the same ordeal. It was definitely a different spin on captivity and makes me think very differently about all those zoo animals all of a sudden.

About the author: Jessica (Jex) Ballard is the Volunteer Director at GeekGirlCon, and an event manager. In addition, she annually volunteers for PAX and Emerald City Comicon. Her interests include gaming and books. If she is not gaming, she is reading. Jessica has a BS from Western Oregon University. Follow her on twitter!