My friends the library turtles over at Three Turtles and Their Pet Librarian did a book review last week on Room, by Emma Donoghue. It intrigued me, so I picked it up to read over the next week. Problem is, Room grabbed me from the time I sat down at 1:30, and held me in its clutches until I finally finished reading all 321 hard-bound pages close to midnight that night.
Room, narrated from the perspective of five-year old Jack, relates the life he and his mother live in an 11 foot by 11 foot room. 'Ma' has been imprisoned there for seven years by her abductor, who they call 'Old Nick', only seeing the light of day through a skylight set high in the ceiling. Jack was born in Room, and its world is the only one he knows.
The first half of the book tells, in Jack's words, the day-to-day details of their lives in Room. About half way through the story, Jack somehow escapes, and the last part of the book describes Jack's struggle to assimilate in a world completely foreign to the one he's always known.
Besides being beautifully written, with well rounded characters (even the secondary ones) and some heart stopping moments (seriously, it was like I was watching an action thriller on TV), this book speaks to the TCK experience. Anyone who has lived in the third world, and has then been transported to a first world nation, will deeply relate to Jack's struggle to adapt to Outside. Things like the fear of driving on a speedway for the first time, or navigating an escalator, or marveling at the size of an indoor mall, are all experiences I share with Jack. Jack also goes through some internal conflict that I can relate to. He meets family members who are strangers, longs for the familiarity of 'home', and struggles with how to interact with people he encounters while completely ignorant of the 'hidden' social rules.
This poignently written novel will soon be a permanent addition to my own personal library. I have a feeling I will want to revisit Jack and the world of Room often.