Thursday, 13 February 2014

Fab Fiction Thursday #13: Room by Emma Donohague

Hidden beneath the moth eaten cardigans and the sets of saucers that have seen many a better day; charity shops contain bowing shelves covered in a thin film of dust, encompassed by an old, musky smell reminiscent of your grandparents' attic. Stacked precariously upon these creaky old shelves lay reams of novels, each containing a new world to immerse yourself in. It just so happens that every so often these shelves are laid with a silver lining. A gem, if you will. Like a magpie is attracted to sparkly silver, I am attracted to the worn, dusty pages of books gone by; assembled as one in order to provide the rare, simple pleasure of a new world to a new owner. Room by Emma Donohague is such a gem, discovered beneath the folds of a charity shop.

It is a book, that, quite simply, is a book unlike any other that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Room is an entirely authentic work of art, that leaves you bound by your own thoughts. Room narrates the unique yet heart rending tale of Jack, his Ma, and Room. Jack is five, and lives with his Ma in Room. Room has a locked door and a skylight, and measures eleven feet by eleven feet. Jack has been surrounded with the illusion that nothing else is real-apart from him, Ma, Room, and Old Nick, the man who visits in the night. That is, until one harrowing day in which Ma admits that there's a world outside of Room.

A fictional interpretation of chilling cases of modern slavery, it was a novel 'triggered' by the case of Josef Fritzl; the Austrian man who imprisoned his daughter in a basement for 24 years, repeatedly raped her and fathered her seven children. It is an excruciating idea that has conclusively resulted in such an intense and profoundly affecting novel.

In the voice of Jack, Room encompasses the shocking reality of life within a modern day prison. The sheer innocence of the narrative placed an entirely new perspective on the true horrors of society today. The voice of Jack develops a magical simplicity to the language, established by the raw innocence and honesty of a five year old. The use of language is astounding, and the novel did not feel disjointed in any shape or form. In stark contrast to the obnoxious and 'clunky' feel that I expected, the narrative felt so natural and flowed brilliantly; the gentle outlook inspiring an entire new perspective. 

The normality of such an abnormal situation to Jack is infective. Room has become such a large feature of Jack's life, and to him, anything else would be considered abnormal and out of place, much in contrast to the beliefs of society. The peculiar actions of Jack somewhat fool the reader into believing that it is quite simply 'the norm'. However, although you are lulled into a false sense of normality, little things, such as unknowingly personifying objects springs you back into reality, depicting how unnatural and odd the behaviour is of the two characters. 

The devastatingly honest revelations of what goes on behind closed doors, at the hands of a callous, brutal and inhuman captor is distressing at times. Small cold blooded acts, such as cutting the power and heating during the midst of winter, only further highlighted the extent to what we take for granted as a society. Donohague faultlessly said a lot, without saying a lot at all. The purple marks on Ma's neck, unknown to Jack, were the attempt of a merciless act of violence, on the grounds of a plea for vitamin tablets. Whilst Jack never quite understood the emotional and physical pain experienced by Ma, it spoke louder than words to the reader.

The idea of unconditional love is ever present within this novel. Jack has only ever known Ma, and as a result human connections with another individual is treacherous ground that can only be overcome with Ma at his side. Their profound, touching love for one another was solely responsible for their time within Room; and the idea of the everlasting paternal bond is imminent throughout. It undoubtedly forces the reader to consider their own response to their family, and to appreciate the opportunities that we are provided within our extensively sheltered lives. 
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  1. Sounds like an interesting book that I will have to pick up. It clearly has a strong story that will keep me hooked Lucy x

  2. Oh I loved this book. It's an amazing piece of writing.

  3. I've been hearing so much about this on booktube and put it straight on my to-read list - it sounds incredible!

    The Life & Times of Belle

  4. This book was absolutely incredible - as I was reading it, I kept having to remind myself that such situations really have happened.


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