I’ve made the mistake of watching the film way before I’ve read the book. It was because I didn’t think I’d be able to find the book anywhere here, and didn’t want to wait for too long. As I was watching, I thought, wouldn’t it be great if the book was written in first person as Jack?
And it is.
Writing a child character, first person or not, is one of the most difficult tasks for an adult writer. It’s rarely compelling or convincing, because it’s not easy to remember what being a child was like. Writers often make the child either too smart and precious, or too naive. Emma Donoghue perfectly captured the voice of a child. The incongruity of intellect, the volatility, the way he made sense of everything even when it didn’t, and most importantly, the innocence. Viewing this world through his eyes, he’s just a child that wants to play and loves his Ma, he’s unaware of the damage that’s being done to him, he’s scared, and it will break your heart.
Every chapter of this book is heartbreaking but for different reasons. Even still, it’s so gripping the reader will want to look away but can’t. You’re angry then sad then mellow, and you don’t even know how it happened. Events flow effortlessly and change of pacing happens swiftly, the characters are just as real and convincing as the narrator, since Donoghue managed to convey the flawed nature of humans just as well as the alien, complex nature of a child.
One thing Room has opened my eyes to, something ‘Ma’ has pointed out to Jack and others (not giving much away,) is how little a child needs in order to be society’s idea of ‘normal.’ She managed to provide a healthy environment using only few supplies and all the love a mother can give. Besides the basic necessities of life, that’s all children need.
Room is beautiful and shocking, definitely risky for a writer to go down that path but Donoghue has proven more than capable.