>The world of most young children is small, made up of their toys, their parents, and their routine. But imagine a child named Jack who has lived his entire life, five long years, in one room with his mother. Four walls, one bed, one stove, one fridge, one toilet, and one television. When Jack watches TV, he believes that everything he sees is imaginary, from Dora the Explorer to the evening news. The child’s entire world is his room.
I’ve just described the premise of Room, a fascinating and exciting novel by Emma Donoghue, a novel that literally blew my mind when I read it last week. The entire story is written from Jack’s point of view, in the narcissistic voice of a 5 year old, with the hell of their situation only hinted at behind Jack’s dislike of green beans or his annoyance that his mother limits him to an hour of TV a day.
Jack’s mother is an intelligent woman and a nearly selfless parent. She structures their days carefully, with nutritionally balanced meals at specific times, physical exercise, math lessons, vocabulary exercises, and hours of play. Her patience and love for her son shine through in their carefully planned routine. It’s only on his 5th birthday, that she begins to reveal to Jack that there is a world beyond their room, and planning their escape from the man keeping them captive.
I’ve been talking of little else ever since I put Room down. I have a feeling I’ll be talking about it for a long time as it raises so many questions about parenting, from breast feeding to where the boundaries of a mother’s responsibility to her child. Don’t avoid reading this book because it sounds depressing. Room is anything but depressing. It’s a unique story of the love of a mother and child and the strength of the human spirit. It’s a story that will stay with you for a long, long time, and will make you think, make you hold your children a little closer, and will make you look at your time together more carefully. I hope you’ll read it, because I’d love to talk about it with you.