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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Room - a review

This novel takes us into an eleven foot by eleven foot storage shed that Jack and his mother call home. Jack was born in this room and it is his reality. Mother has known the outside world however, and until his fifth birthday Jack never knew that once, a long seven years ago, Mother was lifted from the streets and kidnapped to be held hostage by their nightly visitor, Old Nick.

Told entirely from the point of view of this intelligent little boy, “Room” shows us the great love that Mother has for Jack. They have a few books, the TV, a wardrobe—where Jack sleeps so Old Nick will never see him—and whatever they can beg for as a Sundaytreat. In return for Old Nick never seeing her son, she has given up all attempts to escape and allows her body to be sexually violated whenever he needs her. Jack, awake in the closet at night, counts the number of times Old Nick makes the bed squeak.

After explaining to Jack how she actually got in the shed, the two make an audacious attempt at escape, and miraculously pull it off. I don’t want to spoil the surprise except to say it was the fastest I have ever read, skipping paragraphs and pages to get to the finale which brought me to tears. The book, if written as a novella, could have ended at their freedom. However, Donoghue has gone on to feed us a second well-crafted story, still from Jack’s point of view to show the adjustments that the child had to go through to adapt to what we all think of as our reality.
This is a bright uplifting story that takes us from the near depths of a hellacious existence to a new life. I loved the imaginative, original work Donoghue placed in my hands. It is one for the ages, a plausible, but dark story with the light of hope shining as a beacon for all who dare read it.

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