I started and finished the book Room by Emma Donoghue yesterday. It’s the first book I’ve read in a long time that was so compelling that, at one point, Scuba Man was talking to me and I didn’t even realize it.
The book is written from the perspective of a 5-year-old. A 5-year-old who was born in the room and has never been outside of it. Room is his whole world. Wardrobe is where he sleeps in case Old Nick comes. Bed is where he sleeps after Old Nick leaves.
Old Nick is the Bringer. He brings Ma and Jack groceries, if they’re not too expensive, and on Sundays, Sundaytreat. The beep, beep, beep of Door lets Jack know Old Nick is coming in to Room.
TV is not real. TV is Outside and Outside is not real. Stores are not real. Trees, and animals, and houses are not real. They are only inside TV. Nothing is real but what’s in Room.
There is much in Room. There is Eggsnake, and Track, and Ancient Egyptian Pyramid made of cereal boxes. Ma reads books to Jack. He has 5 books with pictures. Ma has 5 books without pictures.
Ma teaches Jack to read, and write, and do math. They have Phys Ed. Their days are filled with learning, playing, and doing chores. Laundry is done in Bathtub. Even though Ma doesn’t let Jack watch TV much, he is never bored.
Every week day, after lunch, they play Scream. Ma and Jack get as close to Skylight as they can and scream as loud and long as they can. Then they listen. Jack doesn’t know what they are listening for, but he never hears anything.
Sometimes, Jack is woken up in the middle of the night by Ma turning Light on and off, on and off, on and off. He doesn’t know why Ma plays this game, but he doesn’t like it. It keeps him awake.
In Room, this 11 X 11 foot space, Jack’s curiosity grows and grows. He begins to question what is real and not real when he see a commercial on TV for Ma’s Killers. How can Ma have Killers that are real and the man in TV take the same Killers for his pain? How can Killers be in Room and in TV? How can Killers be real and not real?
Room is a book about love. Room is a book about the incredible bond between a mother and child. Room is a book about sacrifice and survival. Room is a book that should be on everyone’s reading list.