<em>Trigger Warning: This article references sexual assualt and rape.</em></p>
Room, by Emma Donoghue is a Goodreads Choice Awards Best Fiction novel told from the perspective of Jack, a five-year-old boy who has never been or seen outside an 11-by-11-foot room. The movie adaptation of Room is coming out this October, making it the perfect time to look back at the original novel, released in 2010.
The story begins just before Jack’s fifth birthday, and while his perspective is a very happy and energetic one, there is enough information given in the story to allow the reader to infer the circumstances that he is not yet able to understand and comment on. Some of this information includes how he came to be in this environment — Jack’s mother was kidnapped at the age of 19 and locked in a reinforced shed in her kidnapper’s backyard. After being raped repeatedly for two years, she becomes pregnant with Jack.
Jack’s view of his mother is nothing but adoration, and it is clear that she is an extraordinary woman — putting aside the horrors of her life, she is able to care for a child in her situation and she is doing a great job of it. Jack is able to follow a routine, read, and get exercise in his little home, while also knowing and understanding that too much TV for a person is not a good thing.
Donoghue has not made light of the pain in this novel (at times it was almost too much), but there are moments when the story is very inspirational — moments when you want the strength that Jack’s mother has when things get difficult.
Following this stunningly written, suspenseful journey, you want there to be a happy ending for Jack and his mother, because of everything they have been through. You also realize that there was a sad splendour to what Jack and his mother did have, which they may lose forever.
While most people cannot really understand what it must be like to have lived a life like Jack and his mother, they can appreciate the wonderfully written story, the well thought-out and complex characters, the fact that the reader did not have to endure a life like that, and can help you begin to understand what it really means to be a parent.
Before you embark on this journey on the big screens, take some time to dive headfirst into Jack’s small room, and come out with an appreciation for what Donoghue has been able to capture on paper.