Tuesday, 6 December 2011


I really wasn't keen on the idea of reading Emma Donoghue's Room when we chose it for one of our Book Club reads. I felt the story, narrated by a five year old boy about existing in one tiny room with his mother, might be on the depressing side. How wrong I was. This, despite its theme of kidnapping and captivity is fascinating and ultimately, I feel, optimistic, revealing how resilient children and adults can be. Ma and Jack live in a tiny room, in which Jack was born and his mother, Ma, tries to bring him up and to educate him to the best of her ability. Jack describes the daily routine, how Ma obtains the food and other necessities they need  and the treats they ask for from Old Nick, the only other character we meet in the first part of the story, who visits the room at night. On one occasion when displeased, old Nick cuts off the electricity, after which episode Ma, a young woman in her early twenties, determines that she and Jack must get out of their captivity and devises a plot, which involves Jack in some danger. However, the second part of the story, after a successful escape, relates how Jack and Ma become acquainted with the real world, or in Ma's case, re-acquainted. This part is very tenderly written and I felt was ultimately optimistic in its outlook. An uplifting read, despite some of the horrorrs in it.
Our Book Club discussion ranged over a number of the themes, including the real-life cases of kidnap and subsequent imprisonment which have been published , how succeessfully Jack would be re-introduced to reality, and our admiration for Ma as a resourceful mother.

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