First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the world. It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. There are endless wonders that let loose Jack’s imagination – the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells, the imaginary world projected through the TV, the coziness of Wardrobe below Ma’s clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night in case Old Nick comes.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held since she was nineteen – for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack’s curiosity is building alongside her own desperation – and she knows that room cannot contain either much longer.
Told in the poignant and funny voice of Jack, Room is a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child. It is a shocking, exhilarating, and riveting novel – but always deeply human and always moving. Room is a place you will never forget.
Yes! We survived yet another work week. It is time to dive into the weekend! That’s another work week in the books! It is the weekend again. The past week has been rather uneventful, at least where work is concerned. I was able to complete my tasks with time to spare I guess, allowing me some slack. To be fair, I still had a very productive week. I hope everyone also had a productive week. I hope that everyone is ending the week on a high note, that you were all able to achieve or complete everything you set out to achieve or complete at the start of the week. If it went the other way, I hope you get to spend the weekend resting and rejuvenating your manna. More importantly, I hope everyone is doing well, in mind, body, and spirit. After chalking up another work week, I hope you get to enjoy the weekend.
But before I can dive into the weekend, let me cap the work week with a new First Impression Friday update. After spending the first month of the year catching up on novels published in 2022, I have been reading works of British and Irish literature this February. It all started with James Joyce’s short story collection, Dubliners which I used as a primer for his more complex and more “unreadable” classic, Ulysses. Ulysses was my 1000th novel and completing it cleared my did-not-finish reading list. I again have a clean slate and I hope it stays that way. Since then, I have traveled to Scotland through Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, and to England through Iris Murdoch’s debut novel Under the Net. Now, I am back in Ireland through my current read, Emma Donoghue’s Room.
My first encounter with the Irish Canadian writer and her book was through the poster of her book’s movie adaptation. It did initially pique my interest but I soon forgot about it. But as most popular works go today, I would keep on encountering the book through online booksellers. Fine, I gave in and obtained a copy of the book for myself during the first year of the pandemic. Two years later, I added the book to my 2023 Beat the Backlist challenge as I felt it was about time for me to read the book. Oh, I just realized that the book is part of my 2023 Top 23 Reading List. After Ulysses and Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House, Room is the third book from the list that I read; wow, I am unconsciously ticking off books from the said list. I normally scramble to read the books on the list toward the end of the year.
Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that the primary narrator, Jack, was five years old. As such, I wasn’t surprised to encounter (deliberate) misspellings and erroneous past tenses of some verbs. It was all done to situate the readers in the mind of the narrator. Of course, there are several playful elements. Again, the narrator is in his early childhood. He was also very imaginative, as can be expected. So it makes one wonder if there was an adult influence. Yes, there is, in the form of his mother. There are only two of them and there was no father figure it seems. Not that I can sense although a recurring name was “Old Nick”. It makes me curious about who he is or what role he plays in the story.
As the story advanced, I can make out that the mother and son duo was locked in a room, hence, the title. I initially thought it was just the son who was forced to hide from plain sight. Clues such as his not being able to see the ocean or experience life in the outside world. Apart from his mother, children’s books and stories have become his company. He was also repeatedly asked by his mother to tone it down when he gets too excited so as not to disturb Old Nick. I thought that there might be something wrong with Jack, hence, his being hidden. I thought his mother was free to go outside. I guess I was wrong. There was a developing sense of claustrophobia as I get to read about their being locked up in the room.
It then makes me wonder why. And then it started dawning on me. I have my suspicions about how the story develops but I guess I will have to wait and see. It reminded me of several cases a couple of years back. Oh, it seems the book has earned several literary awards. It was also shortlisted for the 2010 Booker Prize and was included in the New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Interesting thing. A couple of months back, I learned that the book was considered a work of mystery fiction which surprised me. It was not what I had in mind. Now that I am reading it, it started to make sense.
While I can already envision how the story is going to pan out, I am curious about how Donoghue is going to go about it. The story has rather a quick pace, mainly built with quick sentences – again, the main narrator is a young child – and mainly dialogues between mother and son. I wouldn’t be surprised if I finish the book today. How about you fellow reader? What book or books are you taking with you for the weekend? I hope you get to enjoy them. Again, happy weekend everyone!