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In any disaster – be it at a country level, or at a personal level – it is impossible to understand what the victim feels, unless one himself is a victim. We can sympathize, but may never be able to empathize. Emma Donoghue tries to fill that gap with Room, and I have to say she has been successful.
This book is the story of a kid whose complete world is a 11×11 room. Jack does not know that there is a world outside the cell where he has been living since his birth. When he turns five, his mother tells him the truth about the world outside, and hatches a plan for their escape. Jack's life in the cell, his failure to grasp that their is an outside world, his reluctant acceptance of the truth, the escape, and the subsequent attempts to rehabilitate in the outside world is what this book is about. The inspiration for this book was the Fritzl Case where a woman was help captive for 24 years, and she lived in a basement along with three of her kids.
When the Firtzl case was finally out in the open, all of us were thankful that an ordeal was over for the family; but what most of us did not realize was that another ordeal was waiting for the family – the world outside. It is difficult to get back to normal life even when we have spent just a few days outside, think how hard it would be when the only life you have known is inside a small room. The author has captured that emotion perfectly, and when Jack says he wants to go back to the Room, you can understand why he feels so.
The main characters of Jack and his Ma are very well developed. The reader feels the pain and the triumphs of the protagonists along with them. Although the plot takes some time to gain momentum, but rarely slacks after that. The flow of the story is linear, and is quite straightforward. The writing on exhibit is immaculate, and the book is a very good read.
When you start reading the novel it takes a bit of time to get hold of what is being said as the narrator is a 5 year old kid. Even though you are seeing the life from a five-year-old's perspective, you can feel the pain and frustrations of her mother too. Once you get the sense of what is happening, the book is a powerful read. Few observations in the book hit you hard, in today's world nobody has time to enjoy the small things, the things we take for granted – like a simple shower or access to a doctor, or at an even basic level – the fresh air around us. This book makes the reader scared when thinking of the protagonists, and at the same time the reader feels relieved that he/she does not have to face such a situation.
Verdict: A must read.
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