Written by Tyrone Petersen
Author: Emma Donoghue
Ripped from the most horrific of headlines, Emma Donoghue finds inspiration in the Fitzl case of Austria where Josef Fitzl locked his daughter Elisabeth in their cellar for twenty-four years.
Jack, our five year old narrator, takes us from our large sprawling world and introduces us to his nineteen square foot alternative. The only two people occupying his tiny world are his Ma and her abductor, Jack’s father, Old Nick. Although these are the only people with whom Jack has contact, he has a myriad of playmates including Rug, Plant, Tooth and friends such as Dora (yes, that intrepid explorer) and Dylan the Digger owing to his endless imagination and one hour of television per day. This should certainly make for an unhappy childhood, but ‘The Room’ is a brilliant example of not being able to miss what you never had and Jack appears to be the model happy child.
Innocent to the fact that he and Ma are prisoners, Jack becomes the hero of a daring escape a ‘la The Count of Monte Cristo once his mother explains Old Nick has been laid off, may lose his home and consequently be forced to dispose of them both.
Free of Room for the first time in his life, Jack has a difficult time coming to grips with how large the world actually is while Ma struggles with her ordeal and re-entering society.
As The Room is written through Jack’s eyes in Jack’s language, you may find yourself re-reading certain sentences to make sense of them, but having this story unfold through such innocence provides a unique view point on some very dark themes.
Thoroughly engaging, The Room runs to a beat that is both saddening and uplifting and ultimately rewarding. Recommended for those who appreciate a glimmer of light in the dark.