You're not in Kansas anymore…


Today I’m five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I’m changed to five, abracadabra. Before that I was three, the two, then one, then zero. “Was I minus numbers?”

“Hmm?” Ma does a big stretch.

“Up in Heaven. Was I minus one, minus two, minus three – ?”

“Nah, the numbers didn’t start until you zoomed down.”

“Through Skylight. You were all sad till I happened in your tummy.”

“You said it.” Ma leans out of Bed to switch on Lamp, he makes everything light up whoosh. […] I look down at Rug with her red and brown and black all zigging around each other. There’s the stain I spilled by mistake getting born. “You cutted the cord and I was free,” I tell Ma. “Then I turned into a boy.”

“Actually, you were a boy already.” She gets out of Bed and goes to Thermostat to hot the air.

I don’t think he came last night after nine, the air’s always different if he came. I don’t ask because she doesn’t like saying about him.

Jack is five years old and lives in Room with his Ma. Jack has never been outside Room and believes that it is the entire world. He knows that his friends in TV are not really real, not in the same way as him and Ma. At night, after Jack has gone to sleep in Wardrobe, Old Nick comes and sleeps in Bed with Ma, but he always leaves before morning. This is how it is and has always been.

But now there has been a change. Old Nick has lost his job and Ma knows that they need to escape before he loses his house. She concocts a desperate plan, and suddenly Jack is forced to face the fact that there is a world outside of Room, and that he has to enter it alone in order to save himself and his mother.

ROOM (2010) is a wonderful novel by the Irish writer Emma Donoghue. It’s portrayal of Jack and Ma’s life in captivity, and how they try to keep a sense of normality, is very interesting and touching. The psychological problems the two main characters face also seem very realistic. The novel has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for best Canadian novel. It has also been a finalist for International Author of the Year (Galaxy National Book Awards) and the Governor General’s Award.

I really recommend that you pick up a copy of ROOM. It is sweet, disturbing, heartbreaking and funny, absolutely a novel worthy of being read.

Love, Elin.


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