Room Book Review

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Although they use the television for education and distraction, Jack has no idea that anything at all exists outside “Room”: the sun and moon are God’s two faces, and Jack is always safe asleep in “Wardrobe” when “Old Nick” comes in through “Door”.

This child’s-eye view of the world may sound kooky, but it reads as smooth as ice-cream, and Donoghue quickly builds a compelling view of this strange existence.

Desperate to return to normalcy, she has to grapple with a son who has never known normalcy and isn’t sure he likes it.

In the story’s most heartbreaking moments, it seems that Ma may be unable to live with the choices she made to protect Jack.

The mother (“Ma” – we never learn her name) has kept herself sane by devoting all her energy to giving Jack as normal an upbringing as possible.

Their average day in “Room” (their 12ft-by-12ft domain) is filled with “Phys Ed”, cooking lessons, model-making and, at night, standing under their skylight and screaming for help.

Jack knows how to read and do math, but has no idea the images he sees on the television represent a real world.

We gradually learn that Ma (we never know her name) was abducted and imprisoned in a backyard shed when she was 19; her captor brings them food and other necessities, but he’s capricious.

This is a heartwarming yet bittersweet survival story.

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