Jack and his Ma live in Room. Jack is 5 and has only known life in Room. He has never been Outside. He and his Ma spend their days with routines and chores like Phys Ed (running Track on Rug) and laundry (washing clothes in their little bathtub). Jack sleeps in Wardrobe at night, because that's when Old Nick comes to visit his Ma. Jack is growing up and beginning to wonder about Outer Space (what he calls everything outside Room). As his Ma struggles to answer his growing questions, she finally breaks down and tells him the truth about why they are in Room, what's waiting beyond its walls, and why they must try to escape.
Room, the novel, is written from Jack's perspective. I knew before I starting reading why Jack and Ma were stuck in the room, so I didn't get to experience the reveal firsthand. Still, I thought Room was an addictive little story. I found it hard to put down once things got rolling. There were a few very tense moments that had me on the edge of my proverbial seat. I did experience a little frustration at times with Jack's narration. A five year old's vocabulary and descriptive ability tend to be limited, but I think Donoghue made the right choice with using Jack as the narrator, and with having him be only 5 and not any older. I mean, how realistic would it be to have, say, a teenager as the narrator? Could Old Nick keep two people trapped, especially if one were a healthy, growing teenage boy? Of course, even if he were older, he'd probably still have the same sense of awe and wonder that 5 year old Jack experiences about the outside world.
The most amazing thing about the novel is how Ma is able to care for Jack with no help from any one else and using only what they have in Room. She teaches him to read and write, shows him how to cook and clean, and keeps him entertained using things like old cups and boxes to build forts and labyrinths, and although he may suffer from a lack of social development, he seems to be a smart little boy. It's amazing to think about how resilient a person can be, especially when they're doing all they can for someone they love.
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