Room is an “it book” at the moment. Everyone I know is reading it, just finished reading it, or wants to read it. It’s an easy sell – a sensational, ripped-from-the-headlines situation, great pacing, compelling characters, all wrapped up in a quick and easy-to-read package.
The basic, spoiler-free premise: Five year old Jack is our narrator, and his is the only perspective we are privy to. His “Ma” has been locked up in a small room for about seven years by the mysterious “Old Nick”. Jack has spent his entire life in “Room” and doesn’t know that there is a world on the other side of the walls, or that there is anything there is anything unique about his situation.
The book is all ostensibly all about Jack, but for me it is all about Ma.
On a superficial level, when my son is getting on my last nerve, I think about Ma and realize I don’t have it so bad. I go to work during the week. I go to yoga classes some evenings. I have date nights with my husband. I have a support network of friends, family and daycare workers I can lean on. Ma has none of these things. She has been in the same room as her son for five years. This truly makes me shudder when I think about it too hard!
On a deeper level, Ma challenges the martyr-mommy archetype. There’s an pervasive notion out there that moms should put their family’s needs ahead of their own, at all times, and anything less is failure.