Wednesday, October 21, 2015

ROOM: the novel, the movie

Years ago the novel ROOM by Emma Donoghue ended up on my bookshelf. I'm sure it was recommended to me by one of my WhatWomenWrite buddies, but for some reason I failed to dive in. Maybe the premise was a bit off-putting--young girl is abducted and held in a shed while repeatedly raped by her kidnapper. While held captive, she gives birth to a son. I even loaned the book to a friend who read it and loved it. Still, I passed.

What I imagined was a difficult-at-best story filled with horrible images that would haunt me forever, because it's nearly impossible to separate fact from fiction here. Twelve years ago, I was pregnant with my daughter when Elizabeth Smart was found. I remember painting my girl's nursery with a TV nearby, and then being stunned by the news of Elizabeth's miraculous recovery.

Of course, more recently we heard the news of Jaycee Dugard, who spent 18 years in captivity, giving birth twice while held against her will. And then the three women held in Cleveland, Ohio, and the daughter who survived that horrific nightmare. So while the premise of the book certainly felt real, I still put other novels before it.

And then last week, I watched the trailer of the movie ROOM and was immediately captivated by the little boy Jack who tells the story.

You see, Emma Donoghue pulled off the near-impossible feat of telling the entire story through a five-year-old's point of view. A mother of two, Emma drew from her own experiences as a mom as well as months of research on feral children, kids born to incarcerated mothers, prisoners in solitary confinement, and, of course, cases of children born to abducted women.

So ROOM turned out to be a story not of rape and solitary confinement, but rather love. The love between a mother and her son. And the ultimate sacrifice Ma's willing to make to save them both.
Emma answers my girl's question about the main character, Ma.

I read ROOM this past weekend and, as luck would have it, managed to snag my friend Elizabeth's passes to the screening of the movie in Dallas which included a Q&A with Emma, who also penned the screenplay. My daughter and I got to see the movie and then meet Emma afterward, who was gracious and lovely, as I expected she would be.

Do this. Read ROOM. Watch ROOM. And then see if both change you in ways you didn't expect.

As a sidenote, Brie Larson, who plays Ma, and Jacob Tremblay, who plays Jack, are brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

And the R rating I think is a bit ambitious. It's really PG-13 with a few extra swear words. Zero sex, zero nudity, some peril.

Emma Donoghue fields questions from the audience during the screening of ROOM in Dallas, October 19.

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