Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Emma Donoghue's Room opens the door to a tale of terrifying wonderment

In Room is where Jack,now five years old,lives with his Ma and has never gone beyond the walls nor out of the Door,which is locked by a special number code from the Outside.

He is happy to spend his days with his beloved mother,playing all sorts of games until bedtime,where he sleeps in Wardrobe in order to avoid running into Old Nick,who keeps them there but only shows up at night.

Jack is happy most of the time,despite not being able to have a treat until Sunday(brought at whim of Old Nick) or being allowed a pet,due mainly to love and attention his Ma gives him in their small space that Jack sees as his whole world,but now that he's getting older,the time is coming for him to know the truth of their situation and the need to pull away from this seemingly safe but slowly destructive trap they're in:

Ma tries to explain to Jack that many of the things he has seen on TV are not just made up,that Outside is a real place with many people,places and things. When she was nineteen,Old Nick kidnapped Ma and locked her away in his shed,where she gave birth to Jack in the very Room in which they're kept still some years later.

Ma is now 28 and her frustrations at her confinement as well as her growing concerns about Jack's future lead to making a daring plan of escape,especially since Old Nick may be in danger of losing his house which could lead to wiping more than one of his sinister slates clean from detection by the authorities.

Jack finds it hard to be brave but does so for Ma,and they manage to get out of the clutches of Old Nick but their story doesn't end there. News of Jack and Ma's harrowing experience makes them a media sensation,something that neither of them are prepared to deal with as they start the process towards becoming part of the wider world.

As Ma struggles to not only help Jack cope but get her own head on straight,Jack is both frightened and fascinated by his new surroundings. His keen intelligence makes him curiouser and curiouser to discover the newness around,including getting to know his Grandma and letting Dr. Clay at the mental health clinic help him adjust to things.

Yet,fears about losing his closeness with Ma and finding out that not everything in Outside is as friendly as it looks makes Jack's road to recovery a tricky one indeed:

At first glance,Room might seem like TV movie of the week material but by allowing the story to be narrated by Jack,Emma Donoghue was able to mold this novel into a strongly moving story that refuses to come across as such and delivers it's message of triumphing over horrifying circumstances without any cloying sentiment.

Jack's innate innocence and authentic mindset of a clever child who in many ways is treated like an equal ally by his mother in their struggles to keep body and mind intact makes him a very human character to root for and even be amused by at times.

This book is literally a riveting tale of survival and developing inner strength that I actually stayed awake until all hours of the night to finish. Much like Jack and Ma,it was hard to leave this story where it was for very long.

Room is due out at a bookseller near you on September 13 and no doubt that it will be in high demand,due in part to the novel making the short list for this year's Man Booker Award.

Congratulations to Emma Donoghue and here's hoping that this will be the start of many more honors to come for this amazing book. Room is truly hard to exit,as it's trapped characters are lost souls that you come reluctant to leave on their journey yet like Jack and Ma,a path towards a better and fuller life is the best gift that they and this story can give as well as recieve:

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