Room

Emma Donoghue

First Sentence: Today I’m five.

Room is the story of Jack, and as you can guess from the first sentence, Jack is five. To write a novel, an adult novel, from the perspective of a five-year old is no mean feat, but Jacks’ voice is consistently authentic throughout this entire book. Jack was born in Room and has never left Room. Measuring eleven feet by eleven feet it is populated by the likes of Rug, Bed, TV, Door, Skylight etc, it is Jack’s whole world and he knows of no other world outside of the four walls where he was born. Anything he sees on TV he believes is not truly real, until his fifth birthday when Ma explains they are captive and a whole world exists outside Room. Old Nick, the mysterious midnight visitor and provider of Sundaytreat is revealed as their captor, as Ma formulates a plan for their escape. I found this to be an astonishing, disturbing, and incredibly affecting book. Jack’s voice is one of the most memorable voices I’ve come across in a long time. It is one of those books that, on completion, keeps invading my everyday life when I least expect it. Truly haunting.

* * * *

Last Sentence: Then we go out the door.

Last Sentence explained: If you were to just read the first and last sentences you would presume that Jack and Ma spend the entire book in Room and leave at the very end. This is not the case. I thought this is what the book would be, but I was pleasantly surprised when it turns out that they escape relatively early on. It is Jack’s (and also, to a lesser extent, Ma’s) utter inability to engage in/comprehend his new surroundings that I found to be the most intriguing aspect of the book. At the end, after Ma’s attempted suicide and when Jack’s increasing bewilderment is becoming problematic, Ma and Jack return to Room to gain some sort of closure. Jack cannot quite believe it is actually Room, and as a reader, when viewed from the outside it is deeply unsettling. The lead up to the final sentence places it in context and gives a better picture of the way the book ends:

“Good-bye, Room.” Ma says it but on mute. I look back one more time. It’s like a crater, a hole where something happened. Then we go out the door.

Also, it is quite touching how he refers to it as ‘the door’. It is no longer Door, Jack’s world has finally opened up.

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