Prior to reading this book by Emma Donoghue, I had already heard countless reviews about it ranging from “amazing” to “disturbing”. The book jacket’s summary was already intriguing in itself. Narrated by Jack, a five-year-old boy, who has lived in a small room all his life with his Ma, the small enclosed space is his world and is all he knows. The reader quickly pieces together the circumstances of their living situation and it makes the narrative all the more compelling and heart-wrenching. That being said, the narration of the book suits the premise that it’s being told by Jack, but I initially found it a bit strange to get into, and to read with that kind of disjointed phrasing.
Rather than give away too much of the book, I wanted to ponder the idea of complete (unknown) isolation; the belief that everything outside of what you know is unreal. While reading Room, all I kept thinking about was how mind-blowing it would be for Jack, to one day find out that his reality is not in fact the only reality. Imagine thinking that your entire world was an eleven-by-eleven foot room, where you have to move things around to accommodate your daily tasks such as eating, sleeping, bathing and exercise. The only glimpse into the “vast unknown” is a small skylight looking straight up into the sky.
I suppose Jack’s situation is like us and the universe, but on a much smaller scale. For most of us, what we “know” is confined to where science and space exploration has taken us so far. We’ve only got a small “skylight” of a glimpse into the possibility of what’s out there, beyond our knowledge. As I had previously mentioned in an earlier post, there very well could be life on other planets outside of our galaxy. In a grandiose way, the idea is so alien to us (no pun intended) that it would seem to be an unbelievable concept to grasp. Imagine what it would be like one day to wake up and all that you thought you knew was fake. Or at least not the entire reality. The fact that this story is told through the eyes of a 5-year-old boy encapsulates even more of the childhood wonder of the fantastically large world outside of what we know.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5 stars)