The last book my seniors are reading for the year is called Room. Many of you probably get a chance to actually read for leisure and have already had the pleasure of this book. I'm a little bit late to the party. Still, I would like to add my resounding accolades for this fine piece of work.
No spoilers here, the jacket cover says as much, but Room is narrated, brilliantly, from the viewpoint of a five year-old boy. A barely five year-old boy. His experience is very limited because his mother happens to be enslaved by a man who kidnapped her when she was just 20 years old from her university campus and has held her in captivity for seven years. Her son is five. He knows nothing beyond the room in which they live. To him there is no Outside.
The novel is a fascinating look at the psychology of the first few years of life and how important that time is formatively, but even more so for what it says about the intense strength of the mother-son bond. It is the story of a remarkably remarkable woman exposed to the most prurient evil and the purest innocence at the same time and her heartbreaking effort to keep the two apart.
I remember that when my oldest was born, until he was about five, we only had ONE car. When I stayed at home, I very literally stayed at home. Of course, I could go on a walk, and I could use all the rooms of my house. But if you have ever been cooped up for days on end with a cranky toddler, you know how quickly the walls feel like they are closing in. I cannot even imagine.
One of our other teachers, whose own tastes have always seemed less reserved than mine as we choose selections, emphases, etc. for for our seniors, says he finds the book rather appalling because of the subject matter. And yes, when you ponder this woman's existence, it is appalling--a crime of the darkest evil imaginable--but when you see her and their life through the eyes of her boy, you see only love and wonder and strangeness. Even smack in the middle of the most evil situation imaginable, he is innocent, perfect . . . a child.
The women who survived a ten year enslavement ordeal in the home of a Cincinnati man published their collective memoir recently and have been all over the news. I say the topic is timely and worth discussing; Room makes it possible to do so from this remarkably innocent viewpoint.