Room – Emma Donoghue

RoomI’ll start this by saying that, although it is worth reading either way, I think Room would have benefited from my being less aware of the plot, even to the level of not having read the back cover. It would have dramatically increased the confusion/reveal over the first 1/4 of the book if I had done that. Of course I knew roughly what the book was about which did reduce the tension.

So if you don’t mind spoilers…

Jack is 5. Today. And Room opens with him talking about his birthday like a normal five year old, and about the room he is currently in as the entire universe, which admittedly isn’t too unlike a normal five year old, but gradually you realise he genuinely believes that everything else is imaginary and this genuinely is his world.

His mother is doing a great job of home-educating him, cares for him a great deal but you can tell something is very wrong with the man who comes after bedtime. All of this is a great setup at the start.

I do like how we only view the whole story through Jack, having to understand things which he clearly doesn’t, and things that he just doesn’t register.

What I didn’t like was the judgement on a child, whose diet isn’t great for reasons beyond the control of his mother, being natural-term breastfed. For everything else its clear that she’s doing the best she can with the resources available, but there seems to be silent judgement about that being one of the ways in which Jack is “odd”.

I’m probably a hippy.

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