Room by Emma Donoghue
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.
This book was awful. Emotionless. Annoying.
Look, I get it, it’s quite difficult to write from the perspective of a 5-year old as a grown up. I can hardly remember what it was like being five, and I can’t even begin to write from the POV of one. I do, however, know an enjoyable story when I see it, and I know when I’m annoyed. And I know that this book annoyed me greatly.
The hallmark of any brilliant novel is the ability to make the reader empathize for the characters in the book. I want to be able to understand and experience the joy, suffering, frustration, anger, whatever it is that the main characters and the main narrators feel. I got none of that here, due in part to the emotional immaturity and lack of comprehension on the very young main characters’ part, and in part due to my frustration and annoyance at the five year old narrator.
The little boy’s is haphazard, almost a stream of consciousness narration.
I choose Meltedy Spoon with the white all blobby on his handle when he leaned on the pan of boiling pasta by accident. Ma doesn’t like Meltedy Spoon but he’s my favorite because he’s not the same.
And I have to tell you, it is annoying as fuck. In that sense, maybe the book is fairly true to the depiction of kids, because to be honest, a lot of kids are pretty damn annoying to me.
Maybe this kid is annoying because he doesn’t know anything outside Room. Maybe he’s immature because of his seclusion. Maybe this. Maybe that. I don’t want to have to make excuses for the book’s shortcomings.
This book takes place in a room. Have you ever been locked up for an entire day in a room (without a computer or an iPhone for company?) It is as boring as it sounds, and this book is as boring as it sounds. But it’s not boring because the mom has the kid and they love each other! That makes it awesome, right? Not for me.
I have a little sister. She’s 10 years younger than I am. Consequently, I had to put up with a hell of a lot of little kids growing up. They were intelligent, bright, precocious. I still couldn’t stand their company. This book was hell.
The story of Ma is pretty awful, because she’s been kidnapped and raped and locked up. We got no sense of that. There is no emotion, there is no horror, there is no knowing what happened to her because the story is told from the perspective of a stupid little child. The choice of the narrator completely ruins what should have been a heart-wrenching tale.