Author: Emma Donoghue
Year I read it: 2011
One sentence summary: Five-year-old Jack doesn't know why his world consists of one 8' x 12' Room; he doesn't know if anything besides Room and his Mom and Nic, the man who only comes in at night, even exists; and he doesn't know if he could ever escape the comfort and captivity of Room.
Interesting fact: The entire book is told from the 1st person, present tense perspective of Jack.
Three reasons to read it:
- This is a harrowing story. But the author addresses a dark and brutal and terrifying existence from the perspective of a 5 year old - and Jack's narrative is sweet, even while it is heartbreaking. Overall, he makes this difficult story palatable.
- 1st person present narrative - this amps up the suspense of a novel exponentially! [E.g. The Hunger Games] When the character is speaking in present tense vs. past - you don't know if they survive. The narrative could end abruptly at the end of the book - or in the middle in the case of multiple narrators. It creates a very powerful page-turner.
- While this story is fictional, there are far too many real-life cases of captivity and abuse. This narrative gave me a deeper level of empathy with the victims and survivors of tragedies like this one.
One reason you maybe shouldn't:
- At times this book is very intense and contains adult content.
[Opening lines] Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracabadra. Before that I was three, then two, then one, then zero. “Was I minus numbers?”
We have thousands of things to do every morning, like give Plant a cup of water in Sink for no spilling, then put her back on her saucer on Dresser. Plant used to live on Table but God's face burned a leaf of her off. She has nine left, they're the wide of my hand with furriness all over, like Ma says dogs are. But dogs are only TV. I don't like nine. I find a tiny leaf coming, I've seen her two times, that counts as ten.
Ma knows everything except the things she doesn't remember right, or sometimes she says I'm too young for her to explain a thing.
When I tell her what I'm thinking and she tells me what she's thinking, our each ideas jump into our other's head, like coloring blue crayon on top of yellow that makes green.
"Scared is what you're feeling," says Ma, "but brave is what you're doing...Scaredybrave."
"Stories are a different kind of true."