Room, Emma Donoghue
The very premise of this novel sends a chill down my spine. A girl, kidnapped at age 19, has been held in a secret room for the last seven years. Repeatedly raped by her captor, at the novel’s start she has a five year old son, Jack, who has never been outside the room. Jack is the narrator and the terrifying story unfolds in his childish tones and particular viewpoint. The reader, of course understands much more than the storyteller. When the kidnapper visits the room in the evenings, Ma makes Jack hide in the wardrobe, where he listens, and reflects, “I always have to count till he makes that gaspy sound and stops.” On the days when Ma is overwhelmed by her plight and succumbs to a listless depression, Jack describes her as “gone,” and patiently waits for her to return. When they — spoiler alert — make it to the outside, the question becomes whether the real world is really any safer or better than the one that was all their own.