By Emma Donoghue
4 out of 5 stars! Some spoilers ahead!
When I heard what this book was about, I expected it to be a lot darker than it was. However, this dark story is told from the point of view of young Jack who doesn’t know anything except his situation. He is happy and content with his life.
Five year old Jack lives with Ma in tiny shed. This room is the only world that Jack knows. He thinks that what he sees on the TV are made up stories about other worlds. He views room as it’s own universe. In reality, Ma was kidnapped at age 19 and locked in a garden shed that is inescapable. Her captor abuses her and so Jack is born.
It was incredible to read about the love and bond that Jack and Ma had. Ma tried to make things as “normal” for Jack as possible. She makes up games from the few objects they have. For example, they thread a string through broken eggshells to make a snake. They do “P.E.” by running around the rug. They stick to a strict routine. I was amazed by Ma’s creativity and resilience.
Eventually, Ma and Jack escape in a not-so-believable part of the story. I thought this was going to be the main part of the book, but it was actually quite a small part. After this, we read about Ma and Jack adjusting to the real world. I thought that the author did a pretty good job of showing the challenges that Jack would face coming into such a new environment. It seemed like he had sensory processing disorder as well as some OCD. In the room, Jack’s life was extremely small and predictable. His mother and he were never apart because there was no space to be apart! Ma is relieved to be back in the world and wants to move on with life, but Jack misses things about his old life.
This is an emotional and moving book! If you can handle the “baby talk” Jack often uses, I recommend this story.