This book kind of precedes itself, especially since it has now been made into a major film! So I will keep this review short but very very sweet.
There is a reason this book is now a ‘modern classic’. Because it is just outstanding in so many ways. I received it in my delegate bag at the Society of Young Publishers conference in 2015 (one of many pluses of being involved with the committee!) and I am so glad I did.
Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra.
Jack lives with Ma in Room. Room has a single locked door and a skylight, and it measures eleven feet by eleven feet. Jack loves watching TV but he knows that nothing he sees on the screen is truly real – only him, Ma and the things in Room. Until the day Ma admits there is a world outside.
Yes, the story is about abduction and imprisonment, but what makes it so magical and unique is that the trauma and horror of Jack and his mother’s predicament is far less a focus of the novel than their amazing connection and relationship with one another. For this reason, the book is a incredibly fascinating insight into how circumstance can shape human relationships.
Room makes you re-evaluate the world around you, and how much of it you take for granted. Reading it, you feel claustrophobic for Mum, at the same time as feeling liberated and free for Jack. Room is their world now, but Jack has grown up knowing nothing else whereas his Mum knows how devastating their situation is. However, life in captivity has almost become normal for Jack’s Mum too, and her relationship with her captor who comes regularly to bring food and other supplies, starts to resemble an old, stale and boring marriage. It’s so fascinating to see how Donoghue has turned this horrifyingly familiar tale into something completely different by turning it on its head.
The fact that its written in the point of view of Jack makes it all the special: he sees the wonder of everything around him for what they are, and not what he is missing. It puts a whole new perspective on life and material possessions.
If you’re planning on watching, or have watched the film: brilliant! I’m yet to see it but will at my earliest opportunity. But it you haven’t read the book yet, I urge you to do so. As has already been recognised, it truly is a classic and one I know I will keep coming back to and recommending to people as much as possible.