It's the one on everyone's Top 10 lists from 2011: Room by Emma Donoghue. I put it on our list of possibilities for book club for 2012, and I got a unanimous "NO WAY!" from my friends. Who wants to read a book about a kidnapped woman and her son, who are living in an 11X11 room and visited nightly by "Old Nick"?
It sounds horribly creepy, I must admit. But I read it anyway. If everyone is loving this, there must be a reason! So. I could not put the book down. It as absolutely riveting. The story is narrated by Jack, the five-year-old boy who was born in Room. His mother has been a captive for 7 years, since she was kidnapped as a college student. Jack is perfectly happy in Room; it's the only world he has ever known. In fact, he thinks it is the world. But for Ma, it is exactly what it is: a prison.
Ma knows that, for Jack's sake, things have to change. And that's all I will say about the plot.
Was the book disturbing? Absolutely, particularly in the second half. We don't see much of Old Nick, so don't let that part scare you off. But the thought of a woman and her child being captive for 7 years in the midst of a busy neighborhood, in a time in our world when sex trafficking is at an all-time high—that is terrifying.
But I am glad I read it. I think it was good that this was knocked off our book club's list. All of my friends except one would have tossed it out quickly; we tend to be a squeamish bunch. We like happy books, and Room is not one of them. Redeeming, yes; but happy, no.
But if you don't meet Jack and Ma, you're missing on two wonderful, strong, courageous characters and an unforgettable, powerful, yes—positively gripping story.