Book review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room, is a remarkable novel written by Emma Donoghue. It is quite hard to review this book without giving out the story. In the beginning, the story seems confronting and there seems to be no answers to the innumerable questions that emerge in your mind. But that’s when you realise that the story is narrated through the eyes of five year old Jack and centres on his mother.

The story is set in America, in a room that sounds like a modified garden shed. Jack’s mother is a young woman, who is kept in this room by the man who holds her captive. She is raped on a regular basis and becomes pregnant. All she has in the room is a television and a couple of books, but she is supplied with sufficient food and water.

The young woman’s name is unknown throughout the story and is referred to as ‘Ma’. She devotes all her time and energy in bringing up Jack with as much normality as possible. Jack is the only reason she remains sane. He is taught to cook and to study during the day by her, and at nights they both scream through the skylight hoping someone will help them.

Jack has no clue about the outside world (‘Outside’). His entire world is the room; he sleeps in the Wardrobe and calls the captor Old Nick. The sun and moon for Jack were two faces of God.

The way the child narrates this strange kind of existence sounds loopy but Donoghue manages to paint a powerful picture. She uses the same delicate imagination while portraying the outside world and life in the room.

Room is a tale of mother-son love and also part crime fiction. Though the novel is quite disturbing it makes us aware of hardships and pain. The story brings forth a compelling view and keeps it fresh in your mind for a long time and is a must read.

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