ROOM is a heart-wrenching story of a boy Jack, who is born and brought up in a room, 12X12 ft, till he is five years old. Jack and his mother have been locked up, by ‘old Nick,’ who abducted Jack’s mother. She had been in confinement for seven years. She loses her first baby, a girl, in birth. Nick brings her the food, takes away the garbage. The room has a TV, a cupboard and a bed. The child, when he turns five is told by the mother that there is a world outside, beyond the room where real people live. Jack is not able to comprehend anything. Then she tells him that they had to escape and they had to lie and pretend for that. Nick routinely sexually and physically abuses Jack’s Ma. First she tells Nick that Jack is ill and needs hospitalisation. He brushes it aside. The next day when he comes, she tells him that jack is dead and had to be taken away, far, to be buried as she cannot bear to have him buried in the backyard. Ma has a plan – that Jack should pretend dead and then, when Nick dumps him somewhere, he should wake up and talk to somebody and then come and rescue her. The plan works admirably and Jack manages to convey to the cops that his mother was still in the ‘Room.’ The mother entertains the child in the Room, reads for him and makes innovative things. He receives a pencil portrait of himself when he turns five. The book is in first person by the boy.
The story, when the boy comes in contact with the world outside and learns to reconcile is touching. On the whole the plot, the narration and the scenes are absolutely emotional, bringing one to the verge of choking. Like one of the comments on the book said, when you finish reading the book, the world looks the same but you somehow feel different. It is a sensitive novel by the Irish novelist.
(Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan20, New Wharf Road, London NI 9RR,)