Nadia Islam Nitol
This review contains spoilers.
Room by Emma Donoghue deals with a darker theme along with trigger warnings for sexual and emotional abuses. Based on multiple real life case stories, Room is not recommended for everyone, despite being narrated by a five-year old boy.
First of all, the blurb lies. I thought the main plot will be whether they manage to get out of the Room, but it’s not. Quoted from the blurb: “…What she does not realise is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work…”.
However, the real escape plan is not all that huffed upon in the book. Halfway through the book, they are successful in their endeavour to get out of the Room and the grasp of their captor Big Nick, which if you ask me, was a little too simple, considering Big Nick is someone who went ahead and put metal fences all over the room, including the floor. The gaffe that he never even considered to check whether Jack was actually dead is kind of baffling to me.
Then the real story starts. Jack has spent the first five years of his life in the Room. While it was a prison for Ma, it was a sanctuary for Jack. Jack doesn’t know how to function with other people, or with Ma who suddenly has other people that want her attention. Ma believes Jack is her saviour, but other people, including his grandpa, can’t even look at Jack. When people from the outside world accuse Ma for not taking the initiative to put Jack in the outside world and keeping him all to herself, Ma just about loses it.
Many readers and reviewers have complained about how emotionless and irresponsible it was to portray this story from the eyes of a five-years-old child whose speech patterns aren’t developed enough for an easy read, and how the author tried to sell this book by using a different approach and whatnot.
But I think that’s the point. A story that is based on abuse and such a dark theme is supposed to be emotional as it is. The fact that we are being able to see it from Jack is the entire point of this book. If I had wanted to know about how the woman, captured at the age of 19, after being lured by this man at the mention of a sick dog went through this turmoil, I would’ve preferred reading the case stories of the real scenarios that inspired this book.
Room tells the story of mental escape. Even after being in the outside world, Ma and Jack find it troubling to essentially get out of the room. It’s not an easy read, and oftentimes, quite frustrating, but still worth a read regardless.