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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Room - Michal Friedman, Emma Donoghue, Ellen Archer, Suzanne Toren The beginning plot premise of this book is so distasteful to me (a young woman kidnapped and held as sex slave for seven years) that I would never have read this book on my own initiative. Why should I read a novel about a situation that I would prefer to pretend never happens? But this book was selected by a book group I attend, so it was assigned reading. I anticipated not liking this book.

(Warning, possible spoilers below:)

Now that I've finished the book my attitude has mellowed, and I have to admit that I liked the book. It is a view of the world as seen through the eyes of a five year old boy who is facing some major adjustments and new things in his life. The story is told in the first person voice of the five year old who is the son of the kidnapped woman. As the story progressed, the voice of the child won me over. I was rooting for the boy when things were getting scary. The book ended up being a psychological study of relationships facing change.

Upon reflection, I believe I found the story more enjoyable than expected because it is the exploration of a resilient and loving relationship between a mother and her son. Minimal attention is given to "Old Nick" who was the perpetrator of their confinement. It's not a horror story, nor is it not overly sad or tragic. There's just enough threat of violence and danger to keep the reader's attention.

I think the story can be considered a metaphor for people who feel trapped in undesirable life situations. The book illustrates that just because a confining and unwanted situation ends doesn't mean that all problems go away. There's also a description of a mother-daughter relationship that's full of angst.

The author did a good job of providing a believable description of the thinking of a five year old that caused me to start remembering my own experiences of being that age. I had a happy and secure childhood, but I can remember being reluctant to experience new things and meet new people. If I would have had to face all the changes experienced by the little boy in this story, I would have been tied up in knots much as was described in this book.

The following is from PageADay's Book Lover's Calendar for February 28, 2013:
Don’t be frightened away by the topic of this novel. The “room” of the title refers to the tiny underground prison that five-year-old Jack calls home. He’s lived there with his mother since he was born, held captive by a man they call “Old Nick.” Told through Jack’s wide eyes, the novel is full of acute observation, and the plot surprises only add to the unforgettable reading experience.
ROOM, by Emma Donaghue (2010; Little, Brown, 2011)