I have a feeling that I might not have enjoyed Room by Emma Donoghue so much if I am not a mother of a four-year-old boy. More often than not, I found myself wondering what is going on in the mind of my boy who laughs at a cartoon joke, cries when his defiant younger sister grabs his toy away and gets upset over a his own carelessness. The way he perceives the big bad world is obviously different from mine, and sometimes I wish that I could go back to the time when I still think like he does.
The main character in Room is a five-year-old boy Jack who has never gone out of the Room in which he was born in. The narration in Room is actually what goes inside Jack’s mind. What he sees, and how he perceives them. Everything in Room is the world to Jack. The only person whom he has contact with is his mother, whom he calls Ma. Ma was abducted and being involuntarily confined by her abductor Old Nick. Jack’s only access to the “outside world” is from what he sees on the television so he is not even very sure if this other world truly exists.
To me, Room could pass as a parenting book. Ma did her best to raise Jack up despite the circumstances. The description of their daily routine could seem to be mundane, but it was actually a portrayal of how Ma spent every moment to provide for Jack when they were held captive. It is not surprising, and a food for thought, that when they managed to escape, Jack found Ma to become distant and not being available for him as much as she used to.
There are critics who have written about the originality of the whole story line. When I started reading the book, I wasn’t aware of the cases which inspired Donoghue to write Room. I went into the reading without knowing what to expect, and found myself finishing the book within two weeks. A movie has been made but I am not too certain if it could capture the essence of the story — perception.