Published by Little, Brown and Company on September 10th 2010
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.
Room was different from anything I’ve ever read. Both important and disturbing, Room is an ode to the boundless imagination of a child and to a mother who never quit fighting.
Rating this book was very difficult for me. On one hand, I couldn’t stop reading, couldn’t abandon hope for Jack and his mother. On the other hand, I can’t whole-heartedly say I liked it. Whether this is due to the book not being well written or because the ordeal Jack and his mother, locked up in a tiny room by her captor for 7 years, is just unthinkably horrible.
For 5-yr old Jack, who has spent most of his in Room, his daily life squashed into a tiny space is normal. He has simplistic names for things – he lives in Room, sleeps in Bed, sits on Chair – but when his mother pulls him over the table on a carpet, Jack is on a magic carpet ride. Life in Room is a constant back and forth between the dire reality and the sugarcoating quality of his imagination. His point of view does, however, make the writing and the overall perspective of the book very child-like and therefore simple. I wonder whether this book would have been better if it had been written from the mother’s point of view. Personally, I think I would’ve been more invested with an adult perspective; not because children cannot tell stories but because adults channeling children often doesn’t have the same quality. Then again, Jack’s narration is perhaps what makes Room stand out among other books containing abduction, rape, and confinement.
Room raises a lot of questions about love, motherhood, and adjustment, which I pondered over for a long time. Nonetheless, the plot had me bored for the first half of the book – though not a lot can happen when living in a cramped room, I guess – until the tension finally increased to a dramatic point.
Room certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Either, you’ll find it unique and fascinating, or disturbing and horribly boring, or both. I think for me, though I’m giving this book 3 stars because the book was not mediocre at all, it was a bit of both.