Have you ever had the feeling that it is bright even though it is dark? Well, that is the kind of feeling I had reading Emma Donoghue’s Man Booker Prize nominated ‘Room’. The plot is dark and narrated by five year old Jack.
The story starts on Jack’s fifth birthday and he is excited about his gift. He lives in a locked room with his ‘Ma’ and their only link to the outside world is a sky light and a TV. Only that Jack doesn’t know that there is an outside world. Room is the only place he has been since he was born. His mother has fed this fantasy for reasons we can guess and which are explained later in the book. So Jack grows up believing there are only three people in the world. Other than the two of them , there is Old Nick who comes only at night and whom he is never allowed to meet.
What hooked me to the book was how a story when narrated through the innocent eyes of a child has a dream like quality however dark the plot is. While ‘Ma’ longs for the world outside, Jack is content with the only world that he knows. No wonder some wise guy said ‘Ignorance is Bliss’.
I do not want to say more about the plot, you can guess how it will work out. What made me love the book is, how through small incidents here and there, the author makes us think about how we are moulded by our circumstances and what we know. Something as easy as climbing a couple of stairs may seem like an insurmountable mountain to someone who has never even seen a staircase in his life. It also made me think how something you are used to seems like the best thing in the world, until you experience something better, except that you realize it only when you go back to the old world.
One thing I didn’t understand though is the repeated references to breast feeding, If that was supposed to have some subliminal meaning to it, totally missed it.
Verdict: You’ll either love it or hate it, there is no midway here. I loved it