Jack and Ma: reviewing Room

Emma Donoghue's new book, Room, is full of wonderfully unique surroundings such as Wardrobe, Bed, Rug, Plant and Bathtub.  For five-year-old Jack, there is no more than one of anything, so articles got tossed out (imaginary)Window.

Room is also full of days - 2,492 of them - that Ma has been living in a kidnapper's maniacally-fortressed shed.  Not one of those fancy ones you see on DIY shows, either.  We're talking 10' x 10'.

Seven years in that same room every single day.
My claustrophobia just woke up in a cold sweat.

Jack has been living in that room with her since he was born. In Room. In same Bed she sleeps in now. Makes me want to go live in Big Open Field. A really well-scrubbed field. With an autoclave.

This was not the first story about captivity that disturbed me - in just fiction, Benjamin Saenz' House of Forgetting comes to mind - but being slowly immersed through the eyes of a kid made it even more disturbing.  Our reactions - and our imagining of what Ma must be enduring through all this - tie us to the page and stuff a dirty rag in our mouths.  We can only watch Jack, who has no terror about his surroundings, since he has nothing that came before.  Unfazed, he shows us more of his everyday life and,  finally, what happens when Ma takes a risk to make it better.

I was so immersed and paranoid the whole time I was reading, the only grade I can give this one is an A.  Now I'm heading back to that open field.

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