Room is a deeply emotional, intense masterpiece by Emma Donoghue. Once I picked up this book, I truly could not stop reading it. The book has a perfect balance of moving scenes, suspense, and beautiful, human moments. Donoghue takes a tragic, inhumane circumstance and infuses it with emotion and humanity.
The true shining element of this piece is the point of view. The book is about a woman who is captured and held hostage for years. While in captivity in a "room" cut off from the world, she is raped and gives birth. The story picks up five years later. Her son Jack has never been in the outside world. For him, the entire world is "room." The book is told from Jack's point of view. This helps make the book highly emotional while also keeping it strangely objective; we only see the situation from a five-year-old's eyes, so we are left in the dark about many of the situations. The reader must determine what is happening by deciphering Jack's point of view. This creates an element of suspense.
This book has a style and tone very similar to that in Cormac McCarthy's The Road. In many ways, Jack and his mother are living in a post-apocalyptic world, at least from their point of view; they are the only survivors in their piece of the world, and they are forced into survival mode. Like The Road, this book focuses on the bond between a parent and child. Despite the horrific situation Jack and his mother are in, there are moments of sheer beauty. The bond between them is magnificent. We see a mother who does her very best with what she has to give her son the best life possible. I truly admired Jack's mother for her creativity and ability to brighten Jack's life in the midst of gloom.
I also liked the realistic portrayal of the situation. Donoghue does not give the characters a rosy ending or road to recovery. She portrays the difficulty in their situations, especially for the mom. I liked the raw emotion portrayed. I really felt like I was forced to put myself in the characters' shoes and imagine what I would be feeling. Donoghue stirs deep emotion within the reader and attachment.
This book is a terrifying, haunting book that makes the reader ask: what if this happened to me? It delves into tough questions about nature vs. nurture, the human spirit, and survival. Most of all, though, it shows that nothing in the world is as important as the love between a parent and child. This love can help us survive even the most dismal, terrifying situations.
Donoghue proves she is a master of words and storytelling with this work. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to see life, relationships, and the battle between good and evil in a new way.
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