This book has an amazing and interesting plot. The narrator is a five-year-old boy, who’s never seen the outside world.
I loved this book. Loved the characters and how the majority of the book takes place in one location. The “Room”. The two protagonists are being held captive there.
Born and raised in a single room, Jack has never been outside so Emma Donoghue catches his tone of voice and view on the world by not using the indefinite and definite articles ‘a,’ ‘an,’ ‘the’. During the first few pages, it is hard to read because of this, and because the grammar is purposely written incorrectly, but it works.
I felt like I could really see into Jack’s head and how he saw the world. The first half of the book illustrates how Jack tries to make sense of the world with the limited knowledge and experience he has. He believes that there are only three people in the entire world, him, his mom and ‘Old Nick’,his mother’s kidnapper.
I think this is great. Because of his age, he is starting to realise the world is a thing, but because he has never been outside the room, he believes nothing can exist outside the room. Therefore, he thinks that Old Nick only sometimes exists as Old Nick visits the room at night, bringing food and sexually assaulting Jack’s mother while he hides in the wardrobe.
He believes the people in the TV are make-believe and are not real. Only the objects and people in the room are real. He knows that he would have had a slightly older sister if she had survived because she left her ‘mark on the rug’. His mother, who he calls Ma, allows him to believe that only the room is real as a form of protection and to prevent disappointing him because she knows the world he is missing out on.
When Jack’s mother learns that Old Nick has become unemployed, she worries that he would kill her and Jack, rather than letting them go free and so starts to plot an escape, despite knowing that if it fails they could be killed sooner rather than later. I love how Donoghue has used this scenario to keep the conflict on every page of the book. Not one single word went to waist.
Outside of the room, Jack struggles to comprehend the outside world. Everything is overwhelming for him, his grandmother want’s him to have a haircut. Overwhelmed by everything, he longs for the safety of the room he knew. Unable to go back, he struggles to adapt to his new family and to learn behaviours he did not have the ability to learn while he was in the room.
I don’t think Emma could have improved on this story at all. The characters are well developed and the cause and effect relationship of the characters actions and behaviours are clearly written.
The characters development and their point of view are written so well that I feel I can see them.
Inside the Room, Jack’s mother is frightened but strong. When Old Nick appears, she does what he asks so that she can protect Jack. However, Jack is happy and content. He doesn’t understand where Old Nick comes from or where he goes and doesn’t give it much thought. He loves the life he has now and hates it when his mother tells him about the real world through a story because he cannot understand it and likes the safety of the room he lives in.
Once out of the room, Jack’s mother is having to deal with mental issues and trauma that being captivated have left on her. She has to intrust Jack to the care of her mother who looks at him with disgust because he is a child produced from rape. However, having someone else to watch over Jack means that she doesn’t have to be mentally strong to protect him anymore and so she has several belts of depression and breakdowns.
Jack is overwhelmed by the senses he is experiencing all at once. Never exposed to anything outside of the room, Jack is terrified. His grandmother cannot understand is behaviour and believes he should just be able to put the room behind him.
I believe the whole book is really well written and the style works well. Donoghue has clearly done her research, looking into child psychology, mental illnesses and post-traumatic stress. I am also aware the book is inspired by a real event.
I hope to the movie soon in the hope that the screenwriter managed to adapt it beautifully
I recommend giving it a read. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.