Room by Emma Donoghue (Little Brown, September, 2010)
Irish born author Emma Donoghue has created a world that is as safe for a five-year-old boy as it is terrifying for his mother in Room. The main character, known only as Ma, was kidnapped by Old Nick when she was nineteen and has been held captive in a reasonably well-appointed shed on his property for the past seven years. Old Nick routinely visits Ma, raping her, she becoming pregnant as a result. Jack is born and lives the first five years of his life in captivity. Ma takes as good care of him as she is able under the circumstances, teaching him and trying to create as normal a routine as possible, but Jack is never properly socialized and at first cannot fathom a life, or world, outside his four walls, nor why anyone would want one. As Jack gets older, he begins to grow curious about life outside and Ma becomes almost frantic in her desire to escape the only life Jack has ever known.
Ma and Jack's world in Room (Jack doesn't use articles for the objects in his life, but calls them by their name as if it were their proper name) is both horrifying and fascinating at the same time; Ma tries to keep the world she has created for Jack as normal as possible, teaching him good hygiene, how to read and speak, and devising ways for the young boy to exercise. That she is able to stay as positive as she does for her son’s sake is a tribute to Ma’s strength; the plan she hatches for their escape and rescue is brave, though she knows she will possibly end up sacrificing the one thing that gives her life meaning. Emma Donoghue creates a believable world and story with carefully written sentences and descriptive language, bringing the reader into the room with Ma and Jack. She currently lives in Ontario and has written several novels, both contemporary and historical, including Slammerkin.