For Jack’s entire five years of life, he has known nothing but the four walls of Room. It is where he and his Ma spend their days watching Dora the Explorer, running track, reading picture books, and waiting for Old Nick to bring them a “Sunday Treat” of their choosing. Jack doesn’t know that Room is their prison, a prison where Ma has been trapped for seven years, since Old Nick kidnapped her when she was nineteen years old. Ma’s desire to escape perplexes Jack, who believes that the two of them is all the reality there is and the outside world exists only “in TV”. Told from Jack’s point of view, Emma Donoghue’s Room is remarkable. Jack’s innocence is both chilling and heartwarming as his inability to comprehend life outside Room simultaneously protects and wounds him. Donoghue magnificently captures the voice and soul of a little boy’s interminable love and trust for his Ma. Jack’s carefree spirit is loveable, and he is an absolute joy to spend time with. The contentment and naïveté that Jack experiences in his imprisonment is what makes Room so compelling and memorable. His skewed observations are both funny and heart wrenching as Ma slips in and out of depressive states or forces Jack to hide in Wardrobe during Old Nick’s nightly visits. Once readers enter Ma and Jack’s world, they will not be able to tear themselves away until they have reached the end, and even then they will be left wanting more.
Room. Emma Donoghue. Little, Brown and Company. 321 pp. $24.99.