I delayed reading this book for at least a year. I knew it had great reviews, but it was hard to imagine a book about a woman and her son held hostage in an underground bunker.
When I finally picked up the book, it was an audio book, which I think enhanced the experience. It was a five year old boy’s voice I heard narrating their life. His world comes to life – the whole world contained in an 11×11 room. Each item has a personality. Every day is filled with the games his mother has invented to save him. Every movement has purpose.
When the time comes to attempt an escape I was so enthralled with the created world, that I could understand Jack’s frustration. This world is almost magical. If you can forget the rape. The captivity. The threat that if something happens to ‘him’ they will never be found.
Ma knows the world outside ROOM, or she thinks she does. The escape is like pushing an animal raised in captivity out into the wild with little warning. Jack is overwhelmed. And Ma is overwhelmed. Her choices are questioned and her own mental breakdown leaves her unable to lead Jack into this new world.
ROOM is a fascinating novel. Horrible in its way. Magical in its way. A must read, not as a curiosity of a freak raised underground, but as a study of childhood and of humanity.