Room by Emma Donahue

Room is a novel that is told from the point-of-view of Jack, and Room is all that he has known for his entire existence. It is the story of Ma and her five-year-old son, Jack. For Ma Room has been a prison where she has been held captive for the last seven years of her life. For Jack, Room is home.

The concept of an adult novel being written from the point-of-view of a five year old boy was an interesting one. I had mixed emotions. It was a smart choice because, for the most part, I think everyone immediately can sympathize with someone who has been held captive in adulthood. Being ripped away from their only known sense of normalcy, and held in a twelve by twelve cell. I think it is less considered of the child who is born into this world, who does not know what the world outside is like. This is their sense of normalcy, their stability.

I think that is why I found Room to be such a moving novel. There have been so many stories in the headlines in recent years about women or girls who have been abducted and held captive. Stories of women like Jacee Duggard come to mind. I remember how heart-wrenching it was to hear her story. That she had mothered children while she was held captive. Reading Room brought up a slight feeling of guilt within me- I thought, how horrible for her. But, as I mentioned earlier in the review, I did not think of how hard it must have been for the children in these situations as well. That this was their normal life. They did not know anything else of the world, so being taken away from where they had been held captive for their entire lifetime, in a sense, took away their sense of stability.

I thought that the relationship between Ma and Jack was amazing. Although she knew that he was not even in a remotely normal situation, she tried her best to provide for him, and teach him. I admired her strength and the love that she had for her son. That she didn’t look at him as a piece of Old Nick, her captor but rather the thing that kept her going day in and day out.

My main negative point is that I don’t think that the narrator’s voice was always believable as a five year old’s voice. I know that Ma educated Jack the best that she could, but some of the vocabulary that Jack used in narration I cannot see even the most educated five year old using. For the most part, this was well-written, and I found the story to be very touching.

My Rating: 3.5

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