as posted on Real Simple’s No-Obligation Book Club website, found here
Living – Chapter Five – left me anxious, but hopeful that things would work out for Ma and Jack. I immediately questioned Grandma’s ability to take care of Jack, even on a temporary basis, because of her restlessness and, in my opinion, her lack of empathy. She seemed to be a fish out of water. It was like she had no idea what to do, or when to do it – simply, Grandma did not know how to handle the situation she suddenly found herself in. Obviously, losing her daughter to a sick-insane-creep (Old Nick) had robbed her of the opportunity to be a mother. I don’t think Grandma knew how to be a grandmother either. That opportunity was taken away from her when Ma was kidnapped. (Some of these questions were answered when I realized Ma was adopted – pp. 298.)
Kathleen, I agree that Jack became a junior philosopher in this chapter. I also believe he continues to be a moral compass for Grandma, who doesn’t seem to accept the truth – or reality – very well. She lied to the Doctor about playing Checkers with Jack, when he was really watching TV. Jack obviously picked up on the lie and he was confused why Grandma would be dishonest. I got frustrated by Grandma trying to portray a better situation than what she was actually experiencing…why? What was she trying to hide? Her daughter and grandson are celebrities now!
I also questioned Grandma’s ability to care for a young child when she and Jack went to the playground and she failed to protect Jack’s sensitive skin with sunscreen. He ultimately burned, yet Grandma argued with the Doctor’s assumption of her providing only “acceptable” care (pp. 275).
I think Jack is getting accustomed to Outside fairly well, even though it seemed, at times, that he was overwhelmed by the vastness of everything. Specificially, I think Jack hit the nail on the head when he said, “In Room, we knowed what everything was called but in the world there’s so much, persons don’t even know the names.” (pp. 267) His tiny little mind – while great with Ma’s teachings inside Room – is trying so hard to grasp things so big and wondurous in Outside! Jack continues to teach us, especially me, that the world is so vast and so big – there are tiny treasures to discover every single day! (What will I discover today?)
Jack continues with his great teachings when he pronounces his love for Walker at the playground and extends his love with a hug. While Grandma is warning Jack against such action, I think Jack is teaching us that love is greater than all things and should be extended to all, without reservation and prejudice. Imagine the world if this happened on a daily basis. Another great a-ha moment for me, courtesy of Jack, was the checklist of things accomplished since entering Outside and a “bucket list” that he and Ma want to do. I think it is a wonderful reminder to all of us to pause for a moment and remember our blessings, to acknowledge that for which we are grateful.
I agree with Bella, too, because I think Ma and Jack are going to be fine in Outside. I was so nervous when they returned to Room. My stomach was in knots thinking that Weirdo-Creep (aka Old Nick) had escaped from jail and would try to capture them again. Hat’s off to Ma and Jack though, I cannot imagine setting foot inside that small space again. I think I stopped breathing when they were inside and saying goodbye to their former possessions. I can understand Ma’s overwhelming emotion and reaction to the moment, I would have gotten sick too!
Thank you, Kathleen, for sharing this wonderful book with me and leading this discussion. This has been one of the best books I’ve read in a long time! I look forward to future book discussions and I’m so grateful to Real Simple for creating this online, no-obligation book club (genius idea!).
Ms. Donoghue: Great job! Wonderful book! Amazing storyline! What was your inspiration? How did you develop the characters? Why did you decide to use Jack’s perspective? Will there be a sequeal? What happened in the court room when Ma faced Old Nick? Was justice served? How does one receive justice when seven years of your life are taken away?
Question for whomever: I try to be as nice neighbor as possible and stay out of other’s business ( I live out in the country and neighbors are few and far between…..BUT ), I can’t help but wonder if (how?) neighbors around Old Nick’s house could NOT have noticed large shrubs hiding an A/C unit and a tech-savvy “storage” building in the backyard. Isn’t that suspicious? Did anyone notice? Did anyone care? Would you have said something? Would you have been curious to know what Old Nick was doing? Would you have reported suspicious behavior to authorities?