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Book Review

Anastasia Denisova

Room Emma Donoghue
Little, Brown and Company
ISBN: 978-0316098335

his remarkable novel was inspired by Josef Fritzl’s incarceration of his daughter Elisabeth, however, we get to look at two people’s imprisonment from a very unusual perspective. This book is not about agony, pain and despair of being trapped, it is about the bond that keeps Jack and his Ma safe and sane for years. This book is about a parent’s love for their child, it is about surviving and discovering a brand new world.

We learn about Room (their 12ft-by-12ft domain) through Jack’s eyes. He is a typical 5 years old boy who loves his five books, his few toys and crayons, and whose favourite past times are watching TV and playing with his Ma. There is only one thing that makes him different: he has never been outside Room.

The novel makes us explore very different Inside and Outside, compare the very unlike worlds of Jack and his Ma. We hear Jack’s voice behind every word we read. We can only see what Jack sees and we can only feel what Jack feels, and throughout the first part of the novel we get to enjoy Jack’s life with him and do “thousands of things” he gets to do every day. His language is coherent and clear and his thoughts are imaginative and naïve. Jack introduces us to every object that he is in contact with every day. For him they are his friends, for us they become characters called Plant, Rug, Sink, Skylight and Remote.

For Jack life is perfect. He is healthy and happy and Room is full of warmth, fun and undivided attention of his Ma. Jack’s Ma, though trapped in the same space, finds herself in a very different world. She is a victim of a man we call Old Nick, who has detained her for seven years, who pays Room a visit every night to deliver food, take out the trash and rape her. He also is Jack’s father.

The novel reaches its dramatic turning point when Jack and his Ma are freed. They suddenly find themselves having to learn to survive outside Room. They both struggle to get used to the Outer Space Jack assumed only existed on TV, having to star in it himself. Together with Jack, we are now facing a dilemma: is having one lollipop as a very special treat better than choosing from a jar of different flavours every day? Locked in a hospital, away from people and germs, hiding from paparazzi and relatives advising to get on with their lives we almost sympathise with their recurring craving of returning back to Room.

Emma Donoghue’s Room is the kind of book you want to free up your day for. It is as if you become a part of it from the very first page and it ends leaving you with endless questions. If you were Ma, what would you miss the most from the outside world? What would you ask for a ‘Sundaytreat’ if you were Jack? How will Jack cope when he starts school? This is one of the most moving novels I’ve read in months. Room has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010 and has had been awarded the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize amongst other awards.

Buy in Moscow: from 369 rub 429 rub

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