This is a post I wrote for Wordery, which you can view here: https://wordery.com/blog/room-for-plenty-of-thought-574d4c888955b
This book was one that had been sitting in my wish list for a long time before I bought it. I’ve always liked books that were loosely based on a true story, and this one was no exception.
So here we have the story of 5-year-old Jack and his Ma, who live together in Room, a world which had been all Jack had ever known. What makes this books fascinating is not the fact that it deals with this confinement and the horrors that come with it, but the fact that it also deals with the after effects of this kind of emotional torture.
The way that this book is written helps us to see the story from Jack’s perspective, as everyday items like chairs and lamps are written as proper nouns, like they have feelings and emotions too. We are reminded of how confused we were as children when our parents would answer our questions with explanations that boggled our mind. The Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny aren’t real? Nothing is free? You don’t have to restrict cereal to breakfast time? Incredible. Now try telling your child that everything they’ve constructed in their head is actually a lie and that there’s a whole world out there he’ll never be able to truly fathom.
This story is loosely based on the Fritzl Case that emerged in 2008- a case which blew people’s minds. This story will shock you in a similar way, and will make you feel empathy for something that you will struggle to comprehend. The fact that a story like this is actually based on truth adds a new dimension of horror to this story, a horror that can never be desensitised.
Furthermore, because it is written in this way, it makes me feel strange when I say I enjoyed it. I don’t enjoy thinking about how these kinds of things actually happen in real life. Emotional torture is not something to be taken lightly, and especially when reading about a young child being corrupted in this way. The emotions of a child are so raw and blunt that, combined with Donoghue’s writing ability, it’s not surprising that this story is so poignant and heart-breaking.
Despite the emotional rollercoaster, there are episodes that made me smile. Jack’s innocence and brutal honesty made me laugh, the loyalty and love he has for his mother warmed my heart, even when she “betrays” him by telling him everything she ever told him was a lie to protect him. I also can’t forget the fact that there was a character in the book that shares my slightly obscure first name, with the same spelling. Amazing.
This is a book that parents can relate to, and that mothers can cry over. A book that can make young girls overly cautious, and that can make everyone aware of the horrific crimes people can commit for their own amusement. It is also an incredibly well written book, and a book that makes you think, learn and appreciate what you have.