Wow - I'm bad at this. I just started my monthly reviews of books a few months ago and I've already forgotten a month. In my defense though, I've been thinking about this book for so long that I actually kind of thought I already wrote a review for it. And I've also been traveling a lot and ran two marathons this past month, so I deserve a little slack, right? OK- enough with the excuses. Here is the book: Room by Emma Donoghue.
Y'all - this book! I don't think I've ever read a book that has disturbed me so much, but yet couldn't put down. Room is told from the perspective of a five-year-old boy, Jack, who lives in a fortified 11 by 11 backyard garden shed, known as Room, with his Ma. They live here because Ma was kidnapped by creepy pervert (Old Nick) when she was in college and has been forced to live in the shed ever since as his sex slave. Jack was conceived and born in the shed, and it is the only world he has ever known.
Ma is fiercely protective of Jack, and tries to make his childhood as happy as it could be in spite the horrific circumstances of their entrapment. Given that Jack was conceived of rape, the book really didn't have to go in this direction, but I'm glad it did. It would have made a dark book even more dark and possibly impossible to read if Ma wasn't such so loving of Jack and didn't shield him from the horrors of her own existence. And this is why the book is so fascinating for me. Since Jack is so young and Ma is so strong, Jack has no idea that he's in captivity. Ma has a routine, limited as it may be, of exercise, education and playtime for Jack. He even has some TV time, though not too much because too much TV is bad according to Ma. And, of course, Ma keeps Jack as separate from Old Nick as she possibly can. Jack doesn't know that there is literally an entire world outside of Room with other children, toys and family. Because of this ignorance, Jack seems to be relatively happy in the confines of Room, which is kind of off-putting as a reader of obvious reasons, but it works.
However, all that Jack knows might change when Ma sees a chance to escape from Room and Old Nick. And she needs Jack to make it happen. Think about this for a minute. You're five. You're happy. You've been in one room your entire life. It's ALL you know. And suddenly your mom is telling you that she wants to leave and you have to help. It'd be terrifying. Again - there's the conflict. Jack SHOULD want to leave. He should be terrified of where he is, not where he might go. But he's not. If he were older and could comprehend more of what was truly going on, yes. But he's five and scared of what might be outside of Room, not what's inside.
I'm not going further with the plot as I don't want to ruin the book for anyone, but I absolutely recommend this book. I feel weird recommending it because of the horrible subject matter, but Donoghue does such a great job of writing through the innocent eyes of Jack, so it's not as brutal of a read as it could have been. Read it and let me know what you think!