Room blooms. It gropes for your heart, finds it, grinds it up, swirls it back together and spits it out whole. Gripping. Unbelievably original.
Room haunts and taunts us by turning the horrifying into the beautiful. Written in the voice of 5 year old Jack, the novel cruises at light speed and lands inside where our stomach grips and tightens.
Jack and his mother (Ma) live in Room. Kidnapped at 18 by a monstrous man, Ma has been imprisoned in Room for 7 years by her abductor. Old Nick violates her not only physically and sexually, but creates soul holes within her very being.
Her first child by Nick’s rape died at birth. Ma has never allowed Nick near Jack. Jack hides in Wardrobe when Nick appears at night in the cement prison they call Room. Jack hears the noise but knows he must stay in Wardrobe. There are no words to describe this novel. Every single element in Room becomes Jack’s playground as Ma anticipates his creativity and need for stimulation and play.
Ma’s real name is never disclosed. Emma Donoghue enhances Ma’s total invisibility as does Ma, so that she can protect and nurture Jack. Jack adores his mother. Although she has days when she is Gone, she constantly encourages Jack’s imagination. Jack believes that only he, his mother and Nick are humans. The TV provides only fake people, and Ma creates games, stories, and hangs old posters of great art on the wall. She creates safety for Jack in every way, starving herself to give Jack the meager food that Nick allows them. She is in constant pain as her teeth rot and fall out. Her wrist, broken by Nick, never sets correctly and she cannot use it. She appears eager when Nick rapes her so that he will not try to see Jack.
This story of transcendence becomes as real to us as it is to Jack. Donoghue’s originality shines in Jack’s conceptualizations and verbal honesty. With language, innocence and courage, Jack leads a life well lived within the horrible parameters of a woman, his mother, kidnapped, tortured and subjected to Nick’s perversions on a daily basis.
When Ma creates a means to escape by asking her young son to help her, she does it for Jack. Room cannot contain him not hold his spirit any longer. The ensuing drama creates a testimony to a mother’s intense and gripping love for her child, and Jack pours forth his 5 year old intelligence and devotion to his mother. The reality of their escape and the tour de force of their entry into reality – the outside world – cause Ma to fall apart – until she decides to live. For her child.
The last time I came across a novel this compelling, this different, this amazing, was when I read Keri Hulmes “The Bone People.” But there are no bad days in Room, because Ma demands humanity in order to create a world that becomes Jack’s haven. I can’t write about this novel. It MUST be read, just as Michelangelo’s art must be seen. There is no equivalent to Room. Its power and beauty create its own definitions for the reader. DON’T MISS out on this novel. It fills the deepest spaces of our hearts.
I’m not even going to rate this novel. If you want to experience a truly great event in writing don’t make the foolish mistake of missing this book. Overwhelmingly beautiful and creatively powerful, we fall in love over and over again with the most original and courageous mother and child in modern fiction.
Room: A Novel is available for purchase from Amazon.com and other booksellers.
Review by Broad “A” – Ava
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are strictly our own.
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