Saturday, 19 November 2011
Book Review: Room
Room is the size of a small shed and home to a young woman and her five year old son, Jack - the narrator of this story. Through Jack's story, we learn that 'Ma' was abducted when she was 19 years old and Jack is the son whom she bore as a result of being raped by her kidnapper.
I have to be honest, I put off reading this book because the subject matter is so taboo. We hear stories of abductions in the news, of young children being kept in cellars and it's bone-chillingly awful stuff because its real. This is the first piece of fiction I've come across that was inspired by such a cruel reality but the narration is incredibly innocent that you forget about who Jack's father is and the circumstances that bought him into this world. The focus is on Jack and Ma's relationship and their rehabilitation back into society.
It's a tale of a son's love for his mother, it's a reflection on parenting and the natural instinct to protect your own. Ma has tried to protect Jack from the reality of Room and the random nightly visits of her kidnapper, old Nick. Each day, Ma and Jack make up games, watch TV and these daily rituals give them a sense of purpose; some days though Ma is 'gone', she doesn't move from her bed and Jack is left to fend for himself on days like that. And the language of the book is unique, Jack draws you into his world - you begin to recognise a pattern - objects are given names, there's Rug, Table, Meltedy Spoon and Plant - and you feel the childlike connection that Jack has with each of these. In the first part of the book, the major conflict is dealt with early, Ma hatches a plan for them both to escape and we are taken outside of Room into a world which provides challenges to both Ma and Jack.
What I liked about this story? It tackled a taboo subject, it is unique and Jack's narration is lovely. What I found difficult? The latter part of the story seems to fall away from the first part, for me it was a little jilted. What I loved about it? The ending is bittersweet, but oh so good. If you don't cry at that stage, I will be surprised! This story is cleverly written, it will make you laugh, give your heartstrings a mighty old tug, and tears will be splattered across pages but it's very good read. I definitely recommend it - just keep a box of tissues handy.