I read Room by Emma Donoghue for school. While you may be thinking, “Hey, at least you got to read a book that’s not 100 years old,” I think that I would have much preferred reading a book from 100 years ago.
Jack has just turned five, but nothing has changed. He’s still in the same 11’ x 11’ room that he was born in. But he doesn’t know that he is stuck in a room. He thinks that Room makes up the entire world. He does not know that there are people outside of Room or that another world exists other than the one that he lives in. His mother was kidnapped at the age of nineteen and forced to live in the room so Old Nick (her captor) could come in for “nightly visits” (if you know what I mean...). He then got her pregnant with Jack and he provides Ma and Jack with minimal food and clothing. Then, Ma and Jack escape through some complex plan involving a fake death, a rug, and a truck. Will the two be able to integrate into society after being completely isolated for seven years (well, five for Jack, but that makes it his whole life!)?
I know, I know, it sounds like a good book, right? Well, it was actually really frustrating. It was told from the point of view of Jack (who is FIVE) and, if you know what a five-year-old is like, you should know that being inside the mind of one is very scary. I don’t really like kids in general, but I particularly didn’t like Jack. I know that he had really harsh conditions, but he could be such a brat sometimes. He was kind of bipolar because one second he would be screaming and being a horrible child and the next he would be a little angel. I don’t know if that’s what five-year-olds are supposed to be like, but whatever, I didn’t like it.
Another reason that it was not a good book for school was because there wasn’t really any substance to the book. When we were trying to look at symbolism or syntax or whatever English term you want to put in there, it was impossible. It was like trying to scuba dive in a stream. Impossible.
And now for the thing that bothered me the most: the grammar. Because he was five, Donoghue wrote as a five year old would talk: with horrible grammar and misspelled words (at least I think I remember there being some in there…). He also called things by names and gave them genders. For example, Lamp was a girl and Wardrobe was a boy and Rug was a girl. Like he would say, “I’m laying on Rug. She is warm.” It was really annoying. I felt like I was getting stupider as I read it and I really just didn’t like it. With that being said, I think that Donoghue is a good writer. She was able to put herself in the shoes of a five-year-old boy when she is a grown woman, and I think she did it well. I just didn’t like the whole concept of a five-year-old narrating it.
And the last thing: the ending. It was so anticlimactic and it wasn’t satisfying at all, though I think that it was meant to be. Actually, the last half of the book (after they got out of Room) was pretty boring and very repetitive. He did the same things every day and his new experiences and his reactions to them weren’t as profound as I expected them to be. It didn’t hold my attention well at all.
However, don’t let my opinion dissuade you if you want to read this book. There were plenty of people in my class that liked it, but I was not one of them.