Saturday, October 2, 2010

Room by Emma Donoghue

Five-year-old Jack is the wonderful narrator in this story about a young woman who was kidnaped from a college campus when she was 19 and kept as a sex slave for years. Born in a room that measures 11 feet square, Jack has never known any other world. What he sees on television is not real to him. Even Old Nick, the kidnapper, seems not entirely real, since Jack sleeps inside the wardrobe during his visits. So it comes as a shock to Jack when his Ma tells him that Outside is a real place. And she wants his help to get there.

I've been a fan of Emma Donoghue for a long time. She was the subject of my very first blog post back in 2008. With Room, my admiration for her writing continues. Jack's chatty voice perfectly captures a young child's syntax and mercurial mood swings. His mother is also a memorable character. She has made her son's life as normal as she possibly can in their nightmarish circumstances. It is her love for her son that seems to give her the strength to continue looking for a means of escape.

The only queer content in the novel is a cameo appearance by a couple of gay guys with their little boy, but I'll add the GLBTQ tag to this post for those of you who, like me, prefer to read books by queer authors whenever possible. Irish-born Donoghue has lived in Canada for over a decade, so I'll add a Canadian tag too. I look forward to hearing Donoghue at the grand opening event of the writers festival in Vancouver later this month.

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