Told entirely from Jack’s perspective, Room is haunting. Jack and his Ma are obviously kept in Room against their will, but Jack is just a little boy who doesn’t know there’s a world outside Room, trees and grass and puppies are just TV. You can feel and see how horrible things must be for Ma, who is only 26, but Jack is a kid who worries about normal kid stuff, like candy and Dora the Explorer. Ma raises Jack as best as she can, teaching her how to read and write, making him run around in Room and giving her vitamins.
Donoghue completely disappears into Jack’s voice, and for the half of the novel that’s spent in Room, it’s amazing how I was completely unable to picture anything outside it. I just couldn’t. There were four walls, and that was it. I couldn’t place it in a house, in a garden, anywhere.
Ma comes up with a plan to get them both out of there alive, but she’s unprepared what comes next. How does she deal with the freedom? How does Jack deal with everything, considering he just learned that Room isn’t all there is? It’s something I had never considered, but it was fantastic to read about. The aftermath is not peaceful, or smooth, and you can feel all of Ma’s despair, even through Jack’s voice, who doesn’t know or understand what’s going on.
Shortlisted for the Booker prize, it’s not something you can space out through more than an afternoon. It is so engrossing you’ll forget to eat for 5 hours straight, like I did. Brilliance.