Well, what an incredible story this is. I couldn’t write this review straight away after reading it… I had to let it settle inside me, and yet settle isn’t the right word at all. A story like this leaves a woman somewhat unsettled. This story has come up often in conversations with others that I hear have read it. I would recommend it to almost anyone.
The story is not based on true events but was inspired by true events. However, I think the way the feelings are described leaves you feeling anguish for Ma and Jack as though they really are real live people who have gone through this. As a Mother, I was in awe of the way Ma managed to raise Jack and teach him about his life and surroundings in a way that fostered learning and yet shielded him from the ghastly story that is his history. How could a mum do it any other way, you simply wouldn’t want your child to know there was a life outside that was free and happy without fear – not if you couldn’t let your child go into that good world. So Ma taught him everything and incorporated trying to escape (screaming at the skylight) into their routine without Jack understanding the enormity of their situation. The Room, all 11 feet square was the entire world to Jack. He was happy with it and Ma and their Sunday Treats as he knew nothing else … but he did feel uneasy about Old Nick. Ma’s protection of him was absolute. Old Nick had an easy prisoner for those years that Jack was too young – no way would Ma risk Jack, so she stayed put and made the best of an awful situation.
SPOILER ALERT: (of sorts) once they leave the Room and get out into the world, they both have a lot of adjusting to do. You are reminded that Ma was a teenager, and quite innocent of so much, when she was taken… she had no-one to teach her about womanhood, never mind about motherhood. What a difficult transition is before her.
I could write about this story all day… suffice to say – You should read it yourself. There is nothing graphic really, except your own imagination. Some moments make your skin crawl because you understand so much more than little Jack about what it is he’s describing.
This is an intense and powerful story. Really quite incredible… and recounted through the eyes of Jack who turned five on the first page. I’m not sure which moved me more: the opening scene in a world that we know is awful and yet to Jack is simply quite normal; or the closing scene… where I felt Ma’s tremble of courage, and the relief of letting go.
Just read it.