Monday, February 14, 2011
I had no idea what ROOM was about when I picked it up. I just saw a lot of Twitter activity about how much people loved it. I didn't even read the sleeve. I just started reading. I am glad I did it that way. If I had a clue, I don't know that I would have fallen so completely in love with Jack, the young voice of the novel.
ROOM is kind of a "ripped from the headlines" story of Jack and Ma. Ma was kidnapped at the age of 19 and Jack is her young son born in captivity. The story is told by Jack, who turns five at the beginning of the story.
It took a bit of getting used to, but Jack's voice is brilliant and beautiful. As he describes his life in the 11x11 room that they are kept in, you can't help but be drawn in to the sadness but absolute charm of the view of the five year old. He doesn't think it's bad at all. It's just his life and routine. However, some of the situations, even told through the innocent eyes of a five year are disturbing. Fair warning.
After a daring escape in which Jack is the hero, it is heartbreaking and poignant to go through his journey trying to understand life "outside" and the changes in Ma as she grapples with her mental health issues and getting back to her "regular" life.
ROOM is a masterfully written, complex novel with many layers. Donaghue does an amazing job of using Jack's voice to really capture the insanity of their situation as well as bringing the sanity back to their lives. I could write pages and pages and on the YMBC chat, we could have literally gone for hours talking about motivations, the survival instincts of a mother, the innocence and malleability of young children. I don't really want to give anything away though so just trust me when I say that if you only read one book this year, it needs to be ROOM.