Publication Date: 13 September 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
I fell in love with the story of Room when I watched the film early this year, and had no idea it was based on a book until I decided to research it. The film is my favourite of the year so far, and knew when I saw it in the store with 30% off that I had to read what the film was based off.
The plot touches onto the terrifying subject of abduction and being kept in captivity. Before reading Room, I learned of the disturbing case of Elisabeth Fritzl, who was kept imprisoned by her father for 24 years, and Natascha Kampusch, who was held in captivity for eight years by stranger Wolfgang Priklopil. The book was somewhat inspired by the true story of the Fritzl case, which is a devastating crime that Josef Fritzl committed.
I read the novel in two days, which is an obvious sign that I enjoyed it. The narrative follows five-year-old Jack, who shares his day-to-day activities with his “Ma” living in a place called “Room”, which is exactly that – a single room.
Ma has been kept in Room for seven years by Old Nick, who took her from outside the library of her college when she was nineteen-years-old. Ma has tried to bring up Jack in a safe and happy environment by concealing the truth of why they can only stay in one room. When Jack turns five, Ma thinks he is old enough for him to know the truth, and, most importantly, find out a way to escape from captivity.
While the story contains the concerning reality of abduction, the genre is not a thriller or horror. Rather, it focuses on the bond of a mother and her child. Ma understandably endures a lot, but it is what Jack goes through as a young and confused child that is explored more than showing what the primary victim had to suffer through.
Ma and Old Nick’s true identities are never revealed, which is perhaps a way of viewing Jack’s childhood as precious, where his memories of the events will eventually be remembered more like a story than something that actually happened. I felt really connected to Jack, which I think helps readers to recognise victims of abuse as people rather than a saddening fact.
As the narrative is told from Jack’s point of view, he misspells words and has bad grammar, which could be annoying to some. It was not too frustrating for me, however, and after a few pages was not too obvious anymore.
I recommend this book to those who want to read something different and heartwarming. Younger readers can certainly read it because it is not an explicit or horrifying read.