Room is one of the very few books that I judged by its cover.
It was white, with only the title and author’s name written across the front using a multicolored childish-handwriting font.
It was a refreshing sight from all the vampire-themed young adult books that dominate the display cases these days. Room looked like a light read, Fully Booked was on sale, and I had gift cards to spend. I grabbed a copy right away.
Upon entering the story, all you know is that to a kid named Jack, Room was the entire world, and this is where he lives with his Ma. You can see that he is happy with the arrangements, his whole day mapped out for him, with meals and play and treats toward the end of every week. The story progresses and, together with Jack, you find out more about this tiny, highly structured world that he lives in.
You find out that to his Ma, Room was not the whole world; it’s a prison. You find out about Old Nick, his regular visits, and that Jack should always, always be in the closet when Old Nick arrives.
Immediately you find yourself trying to read faster to answer all the “Why??”s.
The story was written in Jack’s point of view. This, I feel, is what really drew me in. You see, Jack is five years old. It was amazing, how Donoghue wrote the entire thing using his voice and made it sound convincing. Peppered with toddler-isms, I felt like Jack really was talking me through the whole story. The narration had the attention span of a toddler as well, one minute eavesdropping on adult conversations that revealed important plot turners, the next he’d be thinking about how much he needed to poo, and you’d go all “Aww, come on Jack FOCUS!”.
While the first half felt like a suspense thriller, room is not so much an escape story as much as it is an unconventional portrayal of a mother-and-child bond, and a socio-psychological commentary of survival and growth.
Through Jack’s entertaining narration, the plot points unfold gradually. Donoghue’s writing gives you enough details yet still left much to the imagination. I don’t know about you, but personally, love it when an author let’s you think for yourself instead of being tongue-in-cheek. It makes me feel like she thinks her readers are smart enough to piece the plot together.
Audrey Niffeneger’s review said “Room is a book to read in one sitting. When its over, you look up: The world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days.” I agree with her completely; I felt the same way after I was done with it.
This post doesn’t do the book any justice, but I must say, it’s one of the most engaging books I’ve read in a long time. If you liked Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and Anne Frank, you just might like this one too.
Find out more about Room the book here.