Jack is five and excited about his birthday. He lives with his Ma in Room, which has a locked door and a skylight and measures eleven feet by eleven feet. He loves watching TV and the cartoon characters he calls friends, but he knows that nothing he sees on screen is truly real – only him, Ma and the things in Room. Until the day Ma admits that there’s a world outside …
Told in Jack’s voice, Room is the story of a mother and son whose love lets them survive the impossible. Unsentimental and sometimes funny, devastating yet uplifting.
It’s not often a book gets the thumbs up from everyone in a book club, but when it does the discussion can become stilted with agreement. Not in this case. This month’s book , enjoyed by all, provided a lively discussion with our Monday night group, mostly centred around Jack, the child. We had some conflicting opinions on whether his development was realistic. Why was he so mature on some matters, yet his voice often younger than his five years?
Everyone had an opinion on this; isolation, one-on-one mothering, confined environment, lack of socialization. And in the end we all agreed that Jack’s situation could not be measured against any ‘normal’ five year old’s world. Vanessa made an interesting observation about Jack’s ability to communicate his wonder at a world he had not yet seen. Most toddlers cannot verbalise their amazement at a new experience or environment, whereas Jack could. This view point was sobering and had everyone contemplating the situation of the many real-life children who have been born to such heart-wrenching conditons.
We also had a healthy scrutiny into the roll of the media in these situations, an analysis of the parents, their support or lack of, and the emotional stability of any young girl who escapes after such an ordeal.
So, although we found ourselves on the the same side of the fence with Room, by no means did this limit our ability to grapple with the issues. In fact, opportunities for stimulating debate seemed to grow as we explored the territory and were confined only by the need to move onto the next prescribed read!