This is one of those incredible books that is too scary to contemplate. Room is narrated from the perspective of a 5 year old boy whose mother is abducted 7 years prior to the narrative and held captive in a room. After several years in captivity she gives birth to a son who becomes her reason for living, for surviving.
In this masterful story, Donoghue describes with enormous tenderness the impact of living in a vacuum, the manner in which one’s life is literally written and written upon by the forces around us, the very essence of the enormous impact of nature on our identities.
For our little protagonist, Jack, Room consists of Table, Chair, Bed, amongst other things. There are no windows in Room, only a skylight. Within Jack’s limited world he learns about creativity and about love. Everything he knows he can touch and experience directly. He believes that the characters on the television are his friends – make believe individuals there to play with.
When Jack’s mother finally tells him that there is indeed a world outside of Room he thinks that she is joking, that it is impossible. It takes her quite some time to convince him that she is telling the truth and then to construct a means for them to escape.
Jack is a brave, inspiring protagonist, despite his young age. He is tenacious, driven and curious, and at the same time, terribly afraid (scave – brave and scared at the same time). The chaos of Outside descends on a Jack and his mother with a rapidity that neither can digest. On one level the result of this is that readers get glimpses of the insanity of our world with its many distractions and burdens, on another level altogether, we appreciate the intensity of Jack’s connection with his mother and her connection to him.
This book is magical. It brings to readers the pure joy associated with simple things and it expresses, with clarity, the manner in which we overburden our lives with mundane excesses. There is no doubt that Jack is a hero, a hero on many different levels.
If you read one book this year, this should be it.