Book Club #2 – Room – Emma Donoghue

So book two and get together two of my book club. Sadly with two people missing. Which was a shame, they were missed and I know they both enjoyed the book. L even text me one night with a message “he’s escaped”, rather bleary eyed the following morning, it too me a while to realise quite exactly what she was on about!

M had not read the book, she found getting into Jack’s voice very difficult and actually we could see why and admire Emma Donoghue for carrying that voice throughout the book without it ever faltering. Whilst you could say that not having read the book is a hindrance, it actually meant we could tell the story again from all our points of view and what we liked and disliked. M went away with a complete picture of the book and may perhaps even try and power through it, because actually a lot of the book is less about the actual ‘room’ but the rehabilitation and reintroduction into society. I think agreement was that we all found it quite a challenge to read and it is a book which will stay with you, it is a powerful story. Some glad they had finished it and could move on to something else.

I did print a list of questions but actually we chatted around it all without really needing to refer to them which is good (I think!). Points covered and I know I have missed plenty!  – the issue of breastfeeding a child. Society seemingly frowns on anyone breastfeeding after a year so C, our midwife amongst us (not compulsory at any book club meeting) informs us that actually children are not really weaned until around 3 years. However I realised why Ma was doing it, the child would have nourishment and everything needed when food was in short supply and then there was the bond of mother and child. I personally found it a bit odd that Jack knew exactly what he was doing and the difference between right and left and which was better. Then when Jack came out, the long hair made everyone assume he was a girl. How modern day society affects us somewhat subconsciously.

The concept of Sunday treat were cleverly thought out extras that Ma got not just to make their time less uncomfortable in Room but to help Jack’s education.  Crayons, pens would have dried up and stopped working, Ma had to think of the long term when making a choice. Why not scissors to cut their hair, but then hindsight in reading the book I realised that they could be used as a weapon to harm Old Nick – Ma was clever. What would you ask for as a Sunday treat?

The escape of Jack to seek help, from development of the plan and then teaching Jack through one words for him to remember what to do, brought observation that this happened in the middle of the book. I was worried that the book was going to be all about them being imprisoned and the last few pages would be, the escape, the capture and punishment of Old Nick and their rehabilitation. To me Jack was reborn once he escaped. Could Jack have really been able to do that or was it all a bit too easy? But he knew nothing else and was reliant on Ma so he would do it.

Again we observed thanks to L that we never found out Ma’s name. We had done it again – Rebecca being our previous read! We knew she had one, because Jack had difficulty in understanding that she was called something else other than Ma. Was that to detract from Jack’s story? Probably not, C said that Ma was an important character just as Jack was. Everything she did was for him; even the press conference was for him, to enable him to have a future. Of course the media have another agenda. (See more of the questions on the list covered without us realising it)

Jack’s questioning of the world brought inevitably came what we teach children. As S said children are like sponges they absorb all the time, but then when they have to question it, things become rather more difficult to explain. Jack was questioning, and when Ma began to tell the truth – why a plane could be seen from the skylight and also on the television, to Jack Ma was lying?

The structure that Ma gave Jack was crucial in his development for when he came out of room; getting up, counting out cereal, fitness, playing, reading the same three books, playing which ever games. Jack needed the structure once outside, which is why he wanted to return to the “room”. I had found on the Room website a diagram which gives you an idea of the layout of the room and also the why and how of writing Room makes for interesting reading.My review of the book can be found here.

A bit of a book swap and cups of coffee and tea a few nibbles makes a lovely way to spend an evening, and it is good to know that some struggled with the book, some loved it, others not so keen. I think we are all agreed that it is a book which stays with you.

And now for something completely different for the next book – Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L.James. See you all in a few weeks for the next round up. Please feel free to comment with any suggestions of books.