If you can make it past the first chapter, you might find Emma Donoghue’s novel Room interesting.

The book is told from the perspective of a five year old boy who has been locked up with his mother by a kidnapper in a small room since his birth.  The story follows their escape and attempt to become acclimated to the outside world.  I found the premise intriguing, but I could not buy the voice of the child narrator.  Since I have three children of my own and spend a good deal of time around other people’s children, I couldn’t stand the diction issues the author ascribed to the boy.  Five year olds simply don’t talk that badly, even if they are developmentally delayed, which the character was not.  In the book, the character has been taught to read by his mother, and has watched TV as well as speaking to his mother, so there is really no reason why he would use such horrible grammar.  It’s not even the normal development of language like you hear when an 18 month old or 2 year old talks.  It’s like the way a three year old would speak if he was just learning English as a second language.

BUT, if you can turn off your inner critic enough to get past that (or if, like me, you have this book with you on an 11 hour car trip and you run out of other books), the story is quite interesting and well conceived.  For the fact that it’s about an abduction case, there is not any detailed violence (although you do learn how the boy came to be born and see the abductor come in and out at intervals, so you know the abuse the mother suffers but the book does not go into detail) and I give the author tremendous credit for that.  It’s rare to come across an author who is willing to show violence or evil through shades an implications rather than in minute-by-minute accounts and I really credit Donoghue’s ability to convey the reality of the damage done without resorting to that.  That choice also maintains the innocence of the little boy narrator, which gives him a better ability to see the outside world in an unspoiled way.

All in all I did enjoy Room, and you might too if you can push past any initial aversion to the annoying way the boy speaks.


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One thought on “Room

  1. What surprises me about that is I would have thought that getting the child’s speech would be easier than hinting at the violence/evil. I’m basing that mostly on the fact that implied violence seems to be so rare in books – most authors can’t manage or (or maybe they just choose not to).
    Sheila @ Seasoned Joy recently posted..Seven Quick Takes

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