Friday, October 21, 2011


Room  Room
Room by Emma Donahue is about this woman who was kidnapped 7 years prior and kept in a one room shed in the back of the home of her abductor, whom is referred to as Old Nick. The book begins with the 5th birthday of her son Jack who is the product of Old Nick's almost nightly raping. The woman tries her best to make this a happy birthday for him despite the fact that they are trapped in this one room. This has all the making of a sad and depressing story, similar to the true story of Jaycee Dugard, but here is where Donahue spins things. The entire novel is told through the eyes of 5 year old Jack.

The change in perspective is what makes this story so wonderful. Even though the story is told from the point of view of a 5 year old, it is not meant for a 5 year old to read.While Jack speaks of normal, light, childhood things such as Dora, books, and games, he also describes darker, more adult subjects, such as the visits from Old Nick and the days when Ma is "gone" and remains in bed all day. However, in describing darker things, Jack describes it like it's normal, because this is all he's ever known in his 5 short years. Anything beyond that small room in which they are confined, which Jack refers to as outer space, is unreal and scary for Jack. All the while, we the reader, can see the true gravity of the situation and just how small Jack and Ma's world is in that shed.

Although this story is told through the eyes of Jack, we still get a glimpse of Ma's feelings. While Jack is happy just being in a small room with his Ma, Ma feels like a prisoner and yearns for the outside world she knew before she held captive. She knows, as we the readers know, that this small room cannot hold her and Jack forever. She tries her very best despite the bleak situation to keep Jack healthy, happy, well educated, and constantly entertained. This is definitely not an easy feat as many parents know, particularly keeping young children entertained. However, Ma tries her best and does an amazing job of coming up with fun and creative things for Jack to do despite their very limited resources (i.e., race track around the bed for exercise, egg shells threaded together to make a snake). Ma also finds unique ways to keep Jack safe. Even though Old Nick is essentially Jack's father, Jack has never gotten to know him or vice versa. Before Old Nick visits, Ma hides Jack in a wardrobe, which seems rather cruel on the surface. But in reality, this is yet another way Ma protects Jack. She doesn't want Jack to be exposed to the likes of Old Nick and his abuse; she'd rather lock him away because at least that way she is sure that he is safe.

This book we very well put together and beautifully written. There is enough action and suspense to keep you guessing. I found Jack's point of view of the world to be at many times fun and imaginative. It really reminds you of how small the world can be to a young child and how important exposure to the outside world is for children.  There are instances where we are left wishing that we could hear Ma's thoughts, but ultimately I found hearing the story through Jack's eyes to be so much lighter and at times comical that I found myself not missing Ma's point of view.

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