I am participating in Real Simple magazine’s No-Obligation Book Club; this is the monthly book selection. Comments are moderated by Kathleen Harris, the managing editor of RealSimple.com. Click here to join the discussion.
I was not expecting to be as drawn to ROOM book as I am, but I’m very intrigued about Jack and his mother’s situation. I, as are others, was hesitant to read a novel written from a five-year-old’s viewpoint, but the Author does a tremendous job of verbalizing Jack’s thoughts, emotions, and juvenile reactions. Like so many other readers, I wanted to know (immediate gratification, thank you Society Norms) why Jack and his Ma were in this confined, 11-by-11-foot, Room. Again, the Author does a great job of keeping readers on their toes and the pages turning. I didn’t realize how fast I was reading this book until I got to the third chapter and remembered we were to stop reading for discussion. (But I want to keep going!)
Speaking of societal norms, does anyone think it is awkward, absurd, silly, normal, or gross that Ma continues to breastfeed Jack? I was immediately taken aback by this. But after thinking about it, I don’t know how I feel. This is incredible ~ but I don’t know if good or bad. A part of me wants to scream, “EWW!” Another says, “Wow, the maternal bond between mother and child is so strong. Her selfless act of nourishing her child is commendable. “ Yet, another part of me feels like Jack is falling into the it’s-all-about-me trap when he worries if Old Nick is getting some too. There have been times when Jack is not pleased with the amount he receives (when is enough enough?) or feels guilty for wanting to nurse, but does not want to disturb Ma. Does Jack sense it’s time to stop? Will he continue to satisfy his cravings because it’s easily accessible and Ma wants to please her child?
I have no children but I am impressed with Ma’s commitment to keep Jack’s TV-consumption at minimum. Her ability to structure their lives is pretty amazing. I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate and say that it’s probably out of boredom Ma and Jack have created this system of organization for themselves. I’ll play D.A. again and say it keeps them sane in this insane situation! (My gosh, I love my alone time and being able to just rest and relax, but there is no way I could survive in a small space 24-7 for seven years. No. Way. Jose.) A daily routine is nice – especially with children – but Jack and Ma are forced to follow this schedule, it’s not their own. Obviously.
I sense Ma’s frustration with Jack’s inquisitive, and curious imagination. As I was reading I kept thinking to myself, “what is she going to do if they are still in Room in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? Or longer?” Jack seems like every other 5-year-old, they ask lots of questions! But, how does one (Ma) answer a child’s (Jack) curious question of reality vs. imagination when the child (Jack) has known no other? How do you describe a rainbow to a blind person? Jack is an intelligent boy (kudos to Ma), but when does a parent have to begin incorporating reality into a child’s imaginative mind? I think this might be a reason Ma is beginning to shed light into Jack’s perspective of their true reality. Aside from make-believe in the TV and books, their world is not lush green fields or pretty flowers. Rather, they rely on Old Nick (who, by the way, gives me the creeps – just throwing that out there!) to provide their needs and wants.
Happy reading everybody, and enjoy Room. 🙂