Wednesday, 13 February 2013

April 2011 - Room by Emma Donaghue

Once again, this book divided the opinions of the group, generally most of us liked the book finding the narrative of the five year old Jack beautifully written. Some however found it a little strange and tiresome at times (perhaps because we've read a few other books from a childrens narrative lately). The bond between mother (Ma) and son Jack was the strongest element of this book, completely unbreakable. We found that a few members kept being reminded of the Josef Fritzl case, which allegedly the author based this story on, making the book intensely creepy right from the off.

In terms of the believability of the plot, we all agreed that although none of us have had any similar experience (thankfully), the beginning where Jack and Ma are trapped in the room is more real, the fact that people are kept hostage in such situations couldn't be argued with. However we all found the escape very elaborate (although the most entertaining part), it was hard to believe, Jack is meant to be a five year old boy, the escape is unlikely in the real world.

The way the characters adapted into the real world we also found too easy, although the younger the child is, the quicker they would adapt, we found Jack, his Ma and his extended family all excepted everything far too quickly, with the exception of Mas suicide attempt.

The group seemed to prefer Ma, in terms of how convincing they were, Mas depression was fairly consistent throughout, whereas Jack somehow came across very young and immature (even for a five year old) and at other times to be extremely intelligent for his age. Not much was mentioned about the men in the book, perhaps except steppa, so its difficult to comment on their roles. We would however would have liked to hear more from the real grandfather before returning to Australia, as we found his reaction towards Jack the most convincing of all the characters. Some situations just came across as silly and forced by the author, such as taking Jack into a busy shopping mall on the way to see the dinosaurs.

The main theme of the book was the mother-son bond, which many felt drawn to, some found the depression a holding point or the stillborn baby, whilst some found the captive situation stuck out in general. The breastfeeding was quite a profound theme, once again showing their bond, but this made some people feel quite uncomfortable, not so much that the five year old was being breast fed, but the way it was a recurring request for him to have some and his favouring the left one. Once Jack and Ma were separated, he craved breast milk once, but then seemed to forget about it throughout the week away from Ma.

The book certainly provoked a reaction from members, in a what if it were me?, sort of way. Would we give up a child who was born into that situation, or keep them to ourselves?

It is hard to comment on if we would read anything from this author again, due to the narrative, the group were fairly split on this one.

Thirteen people attended this meet and gave Room an average score of 5.4 out of 10. Highest score of 9 but a lowest of 3.

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