genre: adult fiction
Born into captivity in a small shed, five year old Jack has never known "Outside." Jack's mother, Ma, was kidnapped and locked into the shed by Old Nick, who keeps them both there as prisoners. With only his mother, a TV and a few belongs, Jack and Ma make a life for themselves until Ma has had enough and her bold plan to escape doesn't account for what lies afterward for the two of them.
Told from Jack's perspective, Room is intricate and emotional. We learn about his predicament as Jack does - snippets and innuendo, a puzzle of what Ma has been through and how she is handling it. Extremely literal and bright, Jack's observations of our world were so spot on and clever sometimes. It really made me think about all the things I take for granted - not just in the ease and comfort of my life but how amazing we all are that we process so much stimuli and just KNOW so much without ever being taught, just because we've grown up watching the world go on around us.
It took me a little while getting used to Jack's voice - but since I am around children all the time, it never bothered me. I have read other reviews being annoyed by this device but I think it makes the story 100% more interesting. To put yourself into the shoes of a child rips any experience down to its most molecular level - all assumptions disappear and suddenly you are at the root of what makes us most human, those most instinctual things.
I listened to the audiobook, meaning that almost the entire story read by a little boy, which I really, really liked. I think reading it might have actually made me frustrated, but to just hear a little boy talk to me in a little boy way felt more realistic and believable. Ma is amazing. Her strength and ingenuity, her patience and perseverance - all those things made me admire her and hurt for her. The fact that she had a few very real faults, the fact that sometimes she DID have to be annoyed and frustrated, that rounded her out into someone I could believe really did survive such a trial while keeping her son as innocent and loved as she possibly could. I appreciated how this story delved into such a challenging experience with grace and gentleness. Obviously as there is rape happening (not graphic at all) and horrible emotional abuse, and the fallout is very intense for both Jack and Ma, but the tone, through Jack's voice, is so curious and questioning and malleable that I didn't finish reading it feeling emotionally scarred. I felt amazed by human resilience and the love of a mother.
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