by Emma Donoghue
This is another book that was all over the blogs some years ago. I think I avoided it back then because I assumed the subject matter would be too harrowing: it\’s about a college student who was kidnapped and locked up in a storage shed refurbished into a dismal prison cell. Her captor kept her there seven years. While held prisoner, she bore a child. Keeping her son as healthy and safe as she could in such oppressive circumstances gave her a reason to live. She taught and entertained him. The eleven-foot space and his mother, were all that he knew. They had a television, a few books, a glimpse of the sky and occasional \’treats\’ brought at their captor\’s whim- that was about it. The story works because it is told through the boy\’s perspective, at the time just five years old. He thinks everything inside the television is pretend, and personifies all the objects in the room- Table, Rug, etc. At night he hides in Wardrobe when his mother is visited by their captor, dubbed Old Nick. His energy and questions start to stretch the limits of their world, and his desperate mother finally tells him the truth of their confinement and makes a move to break out.
I was glad that the story moved quickly, that the filter of a child\’s mind kept the worst of horrors from being too stark, that a lot of the book is about how the boy and his mother struggled to adjust when they finally escaped to freedom. A huge shock to the child, a different kind of stress for his mother. He had never felt rain, never played with other children, never seen a real dog. He was smart in the things his mother could teach him- math, spelling, literature even- but completely baffled by so many ordinary things. His close relationship with his mother strained by their suddenly expanded environment, by so many other people crowding around. There are, of course, a lot of really disturbing aspects to this story- but it is also a tender one of hope and resilience, in spite of the dark premise.
There\’s a lot more depth to this story- and many other readers have detailed it better- see some of the links below. It was a good read, very compelling. Hard to put down and a lot to think about afterwards.
Borrowed from the public library.
Rating: 3/5 321 pages, 2010