As Room debuts in cinemas, In The Middle takes the book back off the shelf.
Inspired by the real Joseph Fritzl case, Emma Donoghue’s Room is a powerful and poignant story about the strong maternal bond between a mother and her son. Born and held captive in a room with his mother, Jack is an admirable character who bravely risks everything to save her. The film remake was recently released this year to acclaimed reviews.
The book is written from the perspective of a five year old Jack, who only has his mother and the inanimate objects in ‘room’ as his world. ‘Room’ is all Jack knows, but for Ma it is the prison where seven years of her life were stolen when she was kidnapped by Old Nick at the young age of nineteen. The child narrative throughout the story is highly effective, Jack is oblivious to his mother’s attempts to protect him from the reality of their situation. He only views the situation through the eyes of a self-centred child, and becomes upset that they cannot return to room when they have escaped.
The inanimate objects in ‘room’ are personified, Ma creates characters for each and every object as they are the only company Jack has. Ma places all of her effort and energy into ensuring that the room is as entertaining as it can be, sheltering him from the shattering truth that he has really been a prisoner all his life. That is until his fifth birthday, when Ma tells him that there is a world outside the room and devises a plan for their great escape. A plan that rests on Jack’s bravery and a lot of luck.
Despite the slow beginning, the book rapidly becomes a page turner. The author portrays Jack and Ma in a way that’s relatable to the reader, even though the situation is far from identifiable, so by the end of the book you have a real attachment to the pair as you will them to escape. If you previously enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night Time by Mark Haddon, then I would recommend this book. It is refreshing to read a well written story, through the innocent eyes of a child.
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