It’s still Hallo-week, Bookworms. Today we continue down the tunnel of terror as we explore books that completely freaked me out. Next on the list of nightmares is Room by Emma Donoghue.
Room is told from the perspective of a 5-year-old boy named Jack. Jack doesn’t understand the world around him, but through his description of his surroundings, the reader pieces together the situation… Jack’s mother was kidnapped at the age of 19 and has been held captive in a sound proof garden shed for years. During that time she’s been subjected to systematic rape by her captor which results in pregnancies. The first pregnancy ends with a stillbirth, but the second produces Jack.
Jack’s story begins as he describes his day inside the room. They have a bathroom, a kitchenette, a bed, and a television. Because Jack has never been outside, he believes everything he sees on television is make-believe. He is has few toys and books, but his “Ma” makes do with what she has. She puts forth an absolutely valiant effort to give Jack some semblance of childhood, despite her circumstances, and the circumstances surrounding his conception. The midday routine of “screaming” gives some clue to the terror “Ma” lives in. Even though the shed is soundproof, once a day she and Jack make as much noise as possible yelling for help, hoping against hope that someone will find them. Reading this book make me claustrophobic… I felt shut in, trapped, and terrified.
Midway through the book when Ma arranges a jail break by faking Jack’s death. Once they’re out of the room, Jack’s adjustment to the outside world is heart wrenching. Ma’s reaction is… What you’d expect of a young woman confined to prison by a rapist for years… It’s a study in psychology and post traumatic stress disorder. How much can a human be expected to take without spontaneously combusting?
This book is amazing, but it is absolutely heartbreaking. What truly makes it terrifying is that this sort of thing actually happens. Jaycee Dugard was discovered alive around the time I read this novel, and it hit awfully close to home. I’ve not been able to bring myself to read Dugard’s memoir, but I can’t imagine the horror. Or Elizabeth Smart’s ordeal. How do you recover from a long captivity and go on to lead a semi normal and productive life?!
You know how your mom watches 20/20 and thinks you’re doing every drug known to man? No? That was just my mom? Well. My mom was convinced I was doing everything from huffing spray paint to tripping on acid during my teen years (none of which I was doing, BTW, MOM!) My mom also lectured me never to walk alone at night, a rule I broke regularly in college. The girl in Room did nothing more than leave the college library after dark and was kidnapped by a madman. In some ways, this book is even more frightening than a dystopia. No need for nuclear war or religious cult takeover. This could happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time… Be careful out there, and learn some kung fu ninja moves or carry pepper spray… Just in case.
Are you paranoid now? I am! Have any of you bookworms ever become so involved in a book that it affected your everyday life?