Jack is five years old. He lives in "Room" - an 11 foot by 11 foot space - with his Ma. They are sometimes visited in the night by Old Nick, who brings them groceries, and Sunday treats. Jack was born in Room and doesn't know that his life could be very different, until one day Ma tells him that they need to escape and gives him instructions that he must follow very carefully. What will life be like for them in the outside world?
Room is narrated by Jack, which gives the reader a childlike perception of life within Room. Jack's narration means that some aspects of their situation are never fully explained, as we only learn what has happened through Jack's recollection of his conversations with Ma. The reader is heavily reliant upon implied meanings within the novel, and this, coupled with Jack's innocence, gives the novel a poignant tone, which leaves us willing the characters to safety and dreading any mistakes they may make along the way. In addition, all the furniture and belongings in Room, including Room itself, are written as proper nouns. This highlights Jack's limited view of the world, and helps to further immerse the reader in the environment of the novel.
Following their escape, Jack and his Ma find that life outside Room has changed more than they could have realised. His Ma has a new stepfather, following the breakdown of her parents' marriage during Ma's time in Room. Her brother is also married with his own family. The outside world also presents challenges for Jack, who has never communicated with anyone besides his Ma, and struggles to break from the routines they established while they were confined to Room. Donoghue also draws our attention to potential issues that may not have been immediately obvious, such as Jack's limited spatial awareness and Ma's mental health. This adds a thought provoking dimension to the novel, which helps to maintain the reader's interest to the end. I would have perhaps liked these issues to have been explored in more detail.
It is very rare that I find a book in which I can immerse myself so completely, but the development of Donoghue's characters (particularly Jack) and her compelling storytelling make reading Room a very enjoyable experience.
Room is available from Amazon.