Room – A Novel

by justine

I love having time alone, especially time to read.

I just finished Room by Emma Donoghue. It was awesome. Finished it in about 5 days. (Spoilers below)

It’s Jack’s story. He’s five. He’s five, like five fingers, and he lives in Room. There’s Table and Bed and Wardrobe (where he sleeps at night when Old Nick comes) and his Ma. Jack doesn’t understand yet but he and his mom are being held captive by Old Nick. Jack is getting curious and his mom is worried. They need to escape.

The narration is perfect as you experience the story from Jack’s point of view. Even his speech reflects his age. I loved the amazing little life his mom created for then, her own ability to cope and create, and their reintegration into society. I was completely enthralled with helping them escape – my mind was turning over options and details of the Room as I knew it. I think I even dreamt about it.

I loved how smart and observant Jack was as a narrator and I especially appreciated the author being able to tell the story through him while knowing readers could deduce more from his observations than he could.

I don’t remember what it was like to be that young. I have trouble remembering what it was like to feel like complete shit as a 21 year old. It made me try and see the world from a kid’s perspective. It feels impossible.

The child therapist points out that Jack might like counting things over and over because it makes him feel safe. I thought about that for me – did I count things or line things up when I was small to control my little world?

And then I thought reading…

I’ve always read things – it feels like an obsession when I’m out and about. Signs (especially at parks), rules, bulletin boards, magazine covers in waiting rooms. It’s distracting but comforting. When I read it’s like my brain gets lulled to sleep and all the anxious thoughts quiet down and all I hear in my head is my quiet, friendly voice reading. Like turning the volume on the TV down or how good it feels to slip under clean sheets in the dark.

My friend says I talk about reading differently than other people – that I describe it as an experience when y’know, I’m not really experiencing anything except sitting in a chair in my house. But he’s right – I remember where I was, what I ate, what crap was going on during most of the books I’ve read. Almost like a history map, my own personal photo album.

So here I’ll note what jumps out at me during this experience of reading Room:

  • Not sleeping well – dreams of escaping and problem solving
  • Wanting to read so badly, but I can’t because my sister was in town (took 3 days off)
  • Reading more than 20% of the book in one sitting, when I finished it
  • Being home alone and cruising through the pages
  • Emailing two friends about it because I want to recommend it to everyone
  • Talking to H about it because it’s taking up so much space in my head
  • Using it as a reward for getting work done

Now the question is – what to read next? xo