Reading reflections in the Bookinglass

An expat with a love of fiction

Posts Tagged ‘familiar places

ROOM by Emma Donoghue

with 2 comments

Grandparent's room with flowersIt has been a few months since I ending up sitting down and finishing ROOM. Not that it was a huge effort to finish, but I found the first half of the book much more gripping that the latter half.

What I remember most about this book now is how I imagined Room, the one in which Jack and his Ma, live.

They measure their square living space and find it to be 11ft x 11ft and the objects and furniture are explored in detail by Jack as he plays, sleeps and eats. But I think it doesn’t need a precise size, in my imagination the size and objects are indistinct and are constructed in the way that I think is important, not what I am told by the narrator, Jack, to be true.

Take for example, Eggsnake, a toy made of empty eggshells strung along a piece of thread, who “lives in Under Bed all coiled up keeping us safe”. There is something about the way that what we put or hide under the bed is able to say a lot about you. In Jack and Ma’s case, they are expert home keepers and frugality is their way of expressing creativity. Eggsnake is Jack and Ma’s guardian. Bed and Eggsnake are the two things that I think are most important in Room so they feature a lot when I am imagining Room and the goings-on in the book.

Surprisingly perhaps, I almost instantly fell in love with Room, even though it isn’t a character and certainly should put shivers up my spine, but because they have made it rich and full of life it seems almost welcoming.

Humans are so adaptable! Almost too adaptable, one message you could take away from this book is that we shouldn’t get attached to places just because we happen to live there. Sometimes we shouldn’t be content with what we’ve got or are given. We need to see outside of our mind’s room and step out of familiar places or ways of thinking. At the moment I am looking for a new job, so I have been content to spend a lot of time alone in my room. I think this was the perfect book in which to see that escape is not only possible, it is essential. As Emma Donoghue puts it (just replace ‘motherhood’ with ‘job hunting’):

I found motherhood a crash course in existentialism (what is my purpose in life, am I mistress or slave of my destiny, when the hell do I get some sleep?) and ROOM was the result.

OK, maybe job hunting is not in the same league as motherhood, but it does make you think more about what you make of your life, your opportunities and, of course, the future. Read more of her chat here but don’t spoil the story by reading too much! Really, I have said too much already.

Written by bookinglass

February 22, 2012 at 4:34 pm