So on my recent trip I picked up “Room” by Emma Donoghue and read the whole thing in one sitting. Its the story of five year old boy Jack who lives with his ‘Ma’ in the ‘Room’ – a 11 by 11 shed with skylight and locked door. He has friends like Dora-the explorer on TV and the Rug, the Bed, the Meltedy Spoon and believes the two people in the Room are the only real people till one day his Ma tells him there is a world outside.
Inspired by the likes of Fritzel case, Room is unlike any other novel. Written in the voice of Jack its not in the same vein as say “The curious incident of the dog in the night time”, Jack’s voice is more adultish and yet endearingly child like.
The first half takes place entirely within the 12-foot-square room in which a young woman has spent her last seven years since being abducted aged 19. Raped repeatedly she now has a 5 year old child. “Ma” has spent every scrap of mental energy in teaching, nurturing and entertaining her boy, preserving her own sanity in the process. Its voyeuristic-watching the mother son relationship-its heart warming and yet the terror is never far away. Thankfully the author doesnt go into descriptive details of abuse. Most of the back story in the novel is filled through adult conversations Jack overhears or through watered down stories his Ma tells him.The second half is about their re-integration into society and perhaps is the more painful part. Especially the heartbreaking interview and its after math.
Room although touches a very dark topic isnt a dark book-if anything its an ode to human hope, courage and a saga of parental strength which is affecting and uplifting. Deserves to be shortlisted for ManBooker 2010.