Room, by Emma Donoghue, is the story of Jack, a five-year-old boy who had lived his entire life within four walls. His mother, referred to as "Ma" throughout the story, gave birth to Jack while held hostage in a shed, especially soundproofed and secured against escape, by "Old Nick." Jack knew nothing other than those four walls; "Ma" fought for her freedom and attempted to create a normal life for her captive son. Jack's mom was inventive and creative, both in her attempts to attract help for their situation and in protecting and educating Jack. They had "scream times," used the lamp to signal for help through the one skylight they had, made toys out of paper tubes and eggshells, and had "physical education" sessions.
Jack eventually plays a key role in a daring escape attempt, and what follows is their adjustment to a new world. Jack, who has only known "Room" feels threatened and afraid of the outside, and "Ma" struggles to adjust to living in relative freedom again.
Donoghue does an admirable job imagining how children born in a captive environment must feel and the struggles they might have adjusting to the normal life of other children their age. The scenario that led to "Ma's" kidnapping is frightening but realistic. The author incorporates many contemporary references (Jack, for example, is a fan of Dora the Explorer), which adds to the book's credibility, but may date the book for future readers. Room was published by Little, Brown and Company in 2010.