Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review of "Room" by Beehive Staff Member Chris Echesabal

Enter ROOM

Let me first start by saying how difficult it is for me to not steal any of the review blurbs of Room from its back cover. This book has left me completely speechless. When I finished it this afternoon I gently closed the book, laid it in front of me and stared blankly forward for several minutes. If you happened to have been sitting across the table from me at this point and had said to me, “So, Chris, how was it?” I would’ve responded thusly: I would have blinked furiously for awhile, trying to regain my focus on reality, before giving up and just smiling weakly at you. And I mean all that as the greatest possible compliment. Room is a thoroughly amazing piece of fiction. It is the kind of can’t-put-down book that very rarely comes out and, indeed, I read Room almost entirely over two long stretches of non-stop reading last night and this morning.

Room introduces the character of Jack, a precocious and innocent five year old boy who knows only the eleven foot square Room where he was born and where he and his Ma continue to live. Though “live” might not be an accurate word for it. You see Ma was abducted seven years ago when she was only nineteen and has been held in this prison ever since where she faces isolation, deprivation, and almost nightly abuse from her captor, the disturbing and mysterious character known only as “Old Nick”. Together Jack and Ma, however, manage to create some kind of semblance of a life. The scenes between Jack and his mother are among the most emotionally moving of perhaps anything I’ve ever read.

In a relatively short space, Room portrays the intangible love and devotion of a mother and son imprisoned together, the harrowing and heart-pounding intensity of their escape, and (spoiler alert) the impossibility of their return to a normal life that Jack has never known before. Author Emma Donoghue does this with grace and skill. Every scene, every line of dialogue, every bit of 5 year old narration seems perfectly crafted to fill the reader with dread, glee, despair, hope, and any number of other indescribable emotions as she takes them through a wholly unique adventure that, like Room itself, seems at turns both claustrophobic and freeing.

In short, you NEED to read this book.

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