Friday, January 6, 2012
Book review: Room
Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews.
To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack's curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.
Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating--a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.
I was excited when I got this book from the library. I'd heard the premise and heard good things from acquaintences who had read it. But I found myself delaying starting the book because I wasn't in the mood for a story I predicted to be very dark.
Though Ma and Jack's situation is very bleak, the story isn't--it isn't a difficult read and not nearly as much of a downer as I'd predicted. Because the book is told by five-year-old Jack, there is little sense of the desparation of the situation--he doesn't know that he and his mom are being held captive.
Jack is very hopeful, intelligent and sweet. It can be really difficult to write in the voice of a child, but Jack's voice almost always was on perfect pitch for a five year old. I only questioned this once whenn Jack expressed that the other people of the world were just like him--they were happy or sad and breathed and slept, and if you cut them, they would bleed, just like he does. I felt this was way over the head of a five year old--maybe even over the head of some adults.
I did have issue with one very small thing--Jack was still breastfed and talks about it regularly. I'm not sure why this bothered me so much. I have no problem with breastfeeding. Maybe I just didn't want it to be so descriptive? or it might have been Jack's age. But every time it was mentioned, I cringed.
I only rated this three stars on Goodreads ("I liked it" rather than two, "it was ok," or four, "really liked it") because it didn't really surprise me at all. Other than the approach (more hopeful than dark) I pretty much knew what I was going to get when I picked up the book and there weren't really any surprise twists. But the book does have a pretty high rating on Goodreads (3.96) and plenty of rave reviews.
I do recommend this book because it's like nothing I've ever read before.