To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
This book is devastatingly heartbreaking, but beautifully crafted at the same time. It’s gut-wrenching and inspiring and makes you view certain things quite differently upon completing the book.
The main character is Jack, who has just turned five years old and he and his mother live in a locked room. Well, not really a room, but a garden shed converted into a soundproof, foolproof cell — they are captives, and Jack’s father is the man who kidnapped his mother when she was nineteen. She is now 26, and desperate to get out of the room.
This book is written from Jack’s point of view, which does a fantastic job of showing us that this room is Jack’s world. He doesn’t think the world exists outside of this room. He doesn’t understand what the beach is or what fresh air is or what running really feels like. He and his mother have a tv, but she’s made him believe that everything on it is make believe and a fantasy (so that Jack doesn’t ever feel like he’s missing out on anything). She is his entire world, and she’s done everything she can to protect him and keep him healthy and keep his questions answered (to his best ability).
The man who kidnapped Jack’s mother is called Old Nick, and since he lost his job 6 months earlier, it’s quite clear that he’ll need to get rid of his house soon. This means he won’t be able to keep Jack and his mother there, and she realises that he’s probably going to get rid of them, so she hatches a plan to escape the room.
Emma has written the dialogue so well — she captures Jack’s naivety and innocence, but also his mother’s frustration and desperation and heartbreak. And she also masks it as well. Jack only knows so much, and his questions highlight how little he is aware of.
This book is wonderful, but also hard to read. It is a ‘read in one sitting’ book, and it’s an eye opener.
My Score: 10/10