Room (Back Bay Books) by Emma Donoghue could have been taken from today’s headlines. Its gripping drama is as real as an interview with actual victims of captivity.
Jack, five years old, doesn’t know he’s been held captive all his life. He believes his life is normal. Jack and his mother live in an 11-foot-square soundproofed cell in a converted shed in the kidnapper’s yard. Jack’s mother whom he calls Ma, has been there seven years–she was a nineteen year-old college student when kidnaped.
The marvel of this story is the balance Ma has maintained in giving her child a rich, loving life, filling his days with exercise games, reading and math lessons, with limited television and unlimited love.
The entire book is Jack’s voice of heartrending innocence, wisdom and love. But there’s harrowing terror, too, and you realize the precarious tight-rope Ma must balance to keep them alive and together.
Even their captor, Old Nick, is seen through Jack’s eyes, or really through his ears, as Ma never wants Old Nick to actually see Jack when their captor visits in the night.
Through a child’s eyes, the reader absorbs the mother’s monumental task of raising a child under these circumstances. Old Nick, evil and unrelenting, is terrifying in his obsession.
Room is an amazing examination of two lives lived in captivity. It’s a testament to a mother’s love, a novel of astounding depth.