Room – by Emma Donoghue

5 07 2016

I love a book that’s a bit different, and this definitely is.

If I tell you it’s a book about a woman who was kidnapped at 19, was raped, and now has a five year old boy who lives with her in a locked room, and their captor visits each night – it sounds pretty miserable.

If I tell you that the entire book is narrated by the five year old, in the language of a five year old, completely how he sees the world, it’s completely different!

So we have a story being told by a little boy who thinks the entire universe is the 11 foot square room he lives in, and everything else either “real” and in the room, like Bed or Shelf or Table (all objects in Room are referred to as proper nouns and have genders), or else it’s “TV”, like trees, dogs and houses.

It’s such an interesting perspective to take, and makes it far less sinister in a way, almost innocent.

He’s an incredibly clever boy, exceptional vocabulary and reading skills, as I guess that’s one way they’ve filled time, but on the other hand, he would never know how to handle grass, or a flight of stairs!

Of course, there is an attempt at escape and there’s a whole new world to learn about, but adjusting to that isn’t easy. Forgetting about the media attention, the infection risks for a child that’s never met other people, and seeing family for the first time, we also have to deal with the fact that people who look tiny are just far away, and rain doesn’t hurt.

It really is a fascinating concept, as well as a gripping story.

room

When I finished the book this evening I put the film on, and I don’t know if I watched it too soon after reading the book, but I didn’t like it anywhere near as much. Of course films have far less detail in, but it skipped some fairly major sections of the book. You also completely lost the child narrative – if anything it felt more like it was about the mum than the boy. I’m sure it’s a great film in its own right, but don’t watch it right after reading the book!

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