Jack and his mother are locked in a shed (11 x 11) and the book is a story about how they survive. The tragedy of their situation soon becomes apparent as the reader listens to Jack’s innocent voice talking about their life in Room, but is himself unaware that there is anything really wrong. He loves his mother and like any child, enjoys the daily routines in his life. Jack’s mother does her best to be a good mother, ordering the days, trying to fend off boredom, protecting Jack from any danger, and yet she is abused and increasingly desperate in this confinement that has gone on for years.
Though I found the boy’s speech a bit distracting at first, it became possible for me to enter the tragedy through his innocent language, thus rendering this tragic story readable. The style reminded me of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Angela’s Ashes. The teller of the story is unaware, but the reader is not. Another book it reminded me of was I Am David, also about a boy who grows up in confinement and has not gained awareness of the wider world in the usual way.
I found the book incredible and riveting. The author is from Dublin and lives in Canada.
Audrey Niffenegger, who wrote The Time Traveler’s Wife, said this, “Room is a book to read in one sitting. When it’s over you look up: the world looks the same but you are somehow different and that feeling lingers for days.”
See a trailer for the book on her website. Don’t worry, there is no spoiler in it.