Lately, I have been playing horror and mystery video games that explore the dark side of humanity. What happens after death? Why are people cruel and mean to each other? How do humans cope with loss?
Room, by Emma Donoghue, presented a rare opportunity to answer these and many other questions. Ma, trapped in an 11 x 11 feet room has only Jack, her 5 year old companion to weather the loneliness and trauma of having been abducted right outside her college campus. A mere 19 years old when kidnapped, she spends the next 7 years of her life trying to escape her confinement. Using information unknown to the reader, she hatches a rescue plan that relies on little Jack memorizing a few simple steps and instructions. The scenes following the execution of the plan are so engrossing and suspenseful that it will be difficult to put the book down!
The author makes a very cohesive and compelling argument about the distress and emotional ordeal kidnapped and confined victims suffer throughout their years of abuse. It presents a possible outcome for a victim who got lucky and not only survived but managed to escape their entrapment. Although the rethoric is fictional, the dialogue and expert opinions were well researched and executed with the intention of shedding light and perspective into an impossible situation. Could you have managed as well as Ma? Can you relate to Jack? These are the questions that make the drama even more personal and enthralling.
As a woman and crime novel enthusiast I think Room struck a chord with me because it presented a scenario that womem could relate to, as mothers or caretakers, without excluding any part of the intended adult and young adult audience. The language is clear and intelligent; Jack’s point of view is refreshing and enlightening which is believable because he is the product of a well educated and privileged mother that provides him with a solid and enviable education during their captivity. After reading this in the comfort of my spacious living room, I better appreciated the struggle of all those people who have been imprisoned against their will and learned to value my freedom a bit more.
The contents may be shocking and unsettling for some people. Please read the book with an open mind and with lots of patience. You will not regret the experience of delving into and escaping from a world most of us never thought could possibly happen in our own neighborhood…