Length: 321 pages
Setting: a generic city, present day
Interest: It was chosen for book club. Even though I wouldn’t be able to make the meeting to talk about the book, I decided to read the book.
Summary: It’s Jack’s fifth birthday and he’s excited to be getting older. He still enjoys doing all the activities with his mother that fill up the day, like Trampoline on Bed, Track on Floor, and playing with Snake (made out of old eggshells). He has to go in Wardrobe every night before 9pm in case Old Nick comes to visit his mother, though. As Jack is getting older, he’s also becoming more aware of the situation he and his mother are in, and comes to the attention of Old Nick, even though his mother tries to hide him. Ma decides its time to get out of Room. First, she has to convince Jack that anything even exists in Outside. Then she has to come up with a plan to get past Old Nick. She decides to fake Jack’s death, roll him up in Rug, have him escape from the back of Old Nick’s truck, and run for help. The plan actually works, and they get free. Now, Jack has to adjust to life in the world Outside, including weather, other people, germs, bugs and many things that aren’t theirs.
Final thoughts: When I started the book, reading it felt like watching a giant car accident – I just couldn’t stop, even though I wasn’t really enjoying myself. It did get more enjoyable, and I just wanted to find out what happened next throughout the story.
Because the story is told from Jack’s point of view, you see a very simplified, happy world. It doesn’t take long for the reader to realize Jack is happy only because his mother works so hard to keep him occupied and happy. She is nowhere near happy with the situation. I found it entirely plausible that a child could grow up in the situation and, if that’s all they know, not realize how odd it is. Of course, Jack is getting older and it is becoming harder to live such a proscribed life.
Unfortunately, Jack doesn’t have very long to get his head around the idea of Outside being real before he has to go there. He nearly botches the escape because he can’t bring himself to talk to a stranger. He’s never seen anyone but his mother and just glimpses of Old Nick (his nickname for their captor). I also found it interesting that everything in Room was given a proper noun without an article to define it. They didn’t have “a bed.” They had Bed. There was only the one, so why do I need to put “a” or “the” in front of these objects when there is only one. Beyond the professionals at the hospital they end up in, people have a hard time dealing with Jack. They just can’t fathom the concept that he’s NEVER been outside, NEVER seen most items in the natural world, NEVER talked to other people. Jack’s aunt and uncle take him into a mall, which must have been the most overwhelming thing in the world to Jack!
Overall, this book makes a great book club book because there’s so many aspects of the story to discuss.
Title comes from: Room was where Jack spent the first five years of his life.
Reading challenges fulfilled: #64 in my Maybe 100 This Year Challenge
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