When You Can’t Look Away
I’m reading Room by Emma Donoghue for my book club. I’m one chapter in (out of 5 chapters), and while I am incredibly fascinated by the quality of writing and by the story, the book is disturbing. Jack, 5-years old when the book opens, has never known a life outside of the eleven-by-eleven foot room he shares with his mother. He sleeps in Wardrobe, he gets his exercise by running around Bed, and, with his mother, he does his laundry on Tuesdays by climbing into the bath with the clothing, and then turning up the thermostat to dry them.
Jack’s mother, twenty-six years old, has been held captive in this room for the past seven years. Old Nick, the name that Jack gave to the man that comes at night, brings them groceries every week as well as Sundaytreat (painkillers, batteries, clothing, etc). She does what she can to give Jack as normal of a life that she can, but her spirits are quickly fading.
We hear these stories on the news every day, but it’s an entirely different animal when the story is told through the eyes of a boy who believes that rabbits and ice cream only exist in the TV. He doesn’t know that the life he’s forced to lead is tragic, but we, the readers, can still fill his mother’s pain through the “games” she makes up for her son to play with her. Every weekday they play “Scream”; they climb up close to Skylight and scream as loud as they can through the opening. Every night he sees his mother playing “Flash”; she gets up in the middle of the night to flash Lamp on and off five or six times–he believes this motion helps her to fall asleep at night.
This is one of those books that I take with me to work for the stolen moments I have through the day. This is a book I will not forget. I’ve got to have this book finished by Wednesday, so stay tuned …