Friday, 13 May 2016

Room - Emma Donoghue

"Jack. He'd never give us a phone, or a window. Ma takes my thumbs and squeezes them. "We're like people in a book, and he won't let anybody else read it."

I wanted to read Room because of the movie that came out last year - I know I know, this happens to me a lot. Anyway, I picked it up on the Kindle and read it in the midst of stressing about finals. Good call? Mayhaps.

Room is the story about a boy. Not a coming of age -one, but the story of a five-year old boy that has lived his entire life in a room with his mother, without knowing that a world exists outside of it. The mother was kidnapped when she was nineteen, and treated like a well-kept prisoner since.

Room poses many interesting questions. Is Jack better off not knowing the truth? He obviously grows up a bit wonky, but how was the mother supposed to tell him that there is a world that he can't have? The mother says it herself multiple times - she did the best she could. She provided the child with the most normal childhood one could have while stuck within the same four walls. Should she have convinced the captor to send him away as a baby? Of course she should have, but she was stolen everything else she had. Can you really ask a person to give up their whole entire world? The mother is the personification of altruism and selfishness at the same time, and it really works.

The story was very interesting, because while it felt unreal, rationally speaking, this happens to actual people. The narrative makes it even more intriguing, because the whole book was from Jack's point of view. He doesn't understand what's happening most of the time, but that doesn't mean that he can't describe the things going on around him. Jack is there to witness some disturbing things that I wouldn't even want to hear in detail, and it's awful in a very interesting way. He also grows a lot during the course of the story, mostly because the world needs him to. 

Honestly, Jack got on my nerves a lot. Not necessarily in a bad way, but in the way a five-year old boy usually does. Also, I related to the mother a lot - she was near my age when she was captured - and my heart broke for her every time something bad came her way. That happened a lot, too.

Altogether, Room is a good book. Not necessarily one I would read again right now (more like 20 years from now, maybe) but it's one I will definitely remember for the longest time. It's real and awful and hopeful, and it really captures the beauty of life, and the wonder of discovering something for the first time.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Sorta Like A Rockstar - Matthew Quick

'Mom,if you love me,' I say, my stomach growling with hunger, 'will you please, please, please eat this meal while I watch?

Here's something that's not a surprise to anyone: I picked up this book because I really liked Matthew Quick's The Silver Linings Playbook. In fact, I probably liked it so much that it's unfair to read and review anything of his because nothing will really compare. Anyhoo, I did it anyway. And no, it didn't compare.

Sorta Like A Rockstar is about Amber Appleton, a 17-year old girl who gets thrown to the streets when her alcoholic mother's boyfriend kicks them out. Amber also happens to be a very upbeat, save the world -kind of a person who wishes nothing but the very best for all those around her. She quite literally spends her days running around from one sad individual to the next, until the world finally manages to get her down and suddenly there's just no point to anything anymore. 

The book is clearly divided into two parts: Amber's normal routine of helping everyone and her downfall, when she just gives up. The first part annoyed me when I was reading it, mostly because I didn't really see a point to it. It's justified just fine by the existence of the second half though, because you couldn't really feel her soul-consuming depression if it weren't for the comparison. The latter half is almost depressing to its own downfall, but in the end, it's an Everything Will Be Alright -book. Good things happen to good people and vice versa. If you're into that, that's great. I'm not sure if I was.

Amber is one of those characters that annoyed the life out of me, but she does grow on you whether you want it or not, and by the end I really did want all the best for her - even if she acted irrationally and like a 12-year old most of the book. She also had annoying and unrealistic mannerisms that I can't see anyone I've ever met using - American or not. True? True. Speaking of America - the book was super American. I mean, I suppose these are quirky little cutesies if you know what they're talking about, but I just felt very very disconnected from the setting. I didn't even feel like I was supposed to be included.

The side characters are mostly flat, papery one-trick ponies. I quite liked Donna, Amber's (very stereotypically autistic) best friend's mother. Donna is a cool, strong independent lawyer and quite frankly the only positive female role model Amber has. Amber wants to be just like her, and so do I. I'm not saying that this makes her a good character, but I personally admire her either way.

All in all, I wanted to like this book more than I did, and I feel like I dislike it more the more I think about it. It wasn't downright bad though, nor was it a waste of time - it just wasn't for me. I suppose that happens.