by Emma Donoghue

"Door's made of shiny magic metal, he goes beep beep after nine when I'm meant to be switched off in Wardrobe."

"Room" is the place where Jack lives with Ma.  It's where he's lived for his entire life, all five years of it.  He and Ma are the only people in Room, except for Old Nick who comes in at night and does bad things to Ma while Jack sleeps in Wardrobe. During the day, Jack and Ma fill their time with all sorts of activities, such as Physical Education - running track around Room for example, making crafts, reading, watching TV, and doing laundry by wearing their clothes into Bath.  On his fifth birthday, Jack becomes aware of Outside for the first time.  This understanding opens the doors to a whole world that Jack has been unaware of for five years - the world outside of Room, a world with other people, and a world free from captivity. 

This story is narrated by Jack, the son of a woman who has been held captive for seven years.  Through his innocent eyes, the reader is allowed to understand how Jack's mother was kidnapped from her university campus when she was 17 years old, and held captive in a locked shed in her kidnapper's backyard. We learn about her poor dental health, "Bad Tooth" to Jack, and her need to take painkillers, "killers" to Jack.  Also, the reader can only make assumptions about how Jack came to be, and what takes place at night when Jack is hidden away in the wardrobe.  

One night, Jack and his mother stage a triumphant escape from Room, after their living conditions go from bad to worse. In this haunting story, Jack's mother is the true hero.  She makes a full life for her son out of a horrendous situation.  She teaches him everything she knows, and she gives him all of her love. Most of the story takes place after Jack and Ma have broken out of Room, and focuses on Ma's rehabilitation and Jack's introduction to his extended family, to the common cold, to cars and shoes, and to the rest of the wonders the real world has to offer. 

When I finished this book last week, I couldn't get it out of my mind.  Ma was so strong to go on living for so long in such a gruesome manner.  I could not imagine life for Jack; he didn't even know about the outside world or about other people.  I couldn't imagine a person like Old Nick who would do such terrible things to a young girl.  Then, I heard about the news story in Cleveland, which is so eerily similar to Room, except three women were held captive for 10 years, and one of them had given birth to a daughter.  It's unfathomable to me that this story I had just read was mirrored in reality.  I feel that through Room, I am better able to understand and sympathize with these women.  Just like Ma, they are incredibly strong and resilient.  And just like Ma, in the story, they still have a long way to go to be okay again.  I recommend reading this poignant and current novel to read about something real and horrible through the eyes of an inventive and funny narrator, Jack.  

♥ Meg xoxo

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