Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue

June 24, 2012
By Calla SILVER, Los Angeles, California
Calla SILVER, Los Angeles, California
5 articles 3 photos 3 comments

Room is a daunting story based on a real one. Room is based off the Fritz case, in which a man locked his daughter in a dungeon and fathered many children with her.
Narrated by Jack, a five-year-old boy, Room: A Novel tells the story about a woman, his ma, who has been locked up for seven years (since she was nineteen) in a room. Ma has protected Jack well, and all he knows is that he and his Ma live together, there are a lot of things in TV that aren't real like toys and stores, etc., and that every night his ma puts him in Wardrobe to sleep and Old Nick comes. It has been seven years, and Jack is five. As Ma grows more and more distressed, Jack becomes more curious about the world around him and the fake one in the TV (or so he thinks). Ma hatches a plan to escape. At first, the plan does not work, so she comes up with a "Plan B" which does.
All of the plots I read about the book before I bought it only said how it was a book about a woman and her son locked in a 11x11 room by a strange man, Old Nick. However, I think that the book is more about Jack and Ma getting used to the world after the escape. While Ma, a twenty-six-year-old woman who has been locked up in Hell for seven years, is having trouble adjusting for understandable reasons, Jack has never been out of Room. He doesn't know that he can't have everything in the stores, and he doesn't know that it isn't okay to just hug people you don't know. He doesn't know that rain isn't scary and is just getting used to the idea that there is so, so much out there.
While the author handles the plot in hand beautifully, I do think that there are a few things she could have done better. One is the escape. I learned about the case she based the book off right before I got to the part about the escape. However, the escape makes it so obvious she was basing it off of the Fritz case. Not much of a problem. It would have been fine, it just seemed a bit...too obvious for me. It also was way too sudden. In a matter of two days, Ma comes up with two escape plans, and the second, although it is completely unrealistic and would never work, succeeds. The escape is just too sudden.
Jack's devotion to his mother is touching. Ma is all he has ever known, and like any little kid, he thinks she knows everything. However, unlike any little kid, she is the only other person he as ever met. The author inserted many sweet moments in the book. Maybe bittersweet. My favorite is the end where Jack and Ma, now living in an apartment of their own (resident living, so they have help close at hand at all times) go back to visit Room.

I like second part of the book is the second part where the two are trying to get used to the outside world better than the first part. The first part is interesting, but drags on. Although I love the second part of the story, I do think that the author had trouble sticking to the five-year-old personality. It sounded like a five-year-old kid, but at the same time, it didn't. It didn't sound like a kid who just got out of what Jack got out of. The way Jack thought, the way he adjusted, was somewhat unrealistic.
Overall, Room is a worthwhile novel and I highly recommend it.

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