I really wanted to read this one when it first came out before we left for Kyrgyzstan, but there were too many holds on it at the library for me to get it before we left, and I couldn't get it in Kyrgyzstan. But it was waiting for me here (bestsellers are so much easier to get at the library almost two years later), so I finally had a chance to read it.
In some ways, I'm glad I read it now instead of then because Jack reminded me of my own almost-five-year-old in many ways. It seems that when you read books narrated by children that the child's voice sounds too adult, but Jack sounded like a five-year-old to me. I had to keep stopping while I was reading and hug my own little one.
And my own four-year-old has been trying to navigate a new world too. Of course there is no comparison between getting rescued after being held captive in one room all your life and moving to a new country, but I think it's too easy to assume that what we're used to is normal. Nearly everyone around my son assumes that the US should be normal to him, but Kyrgyzstan is his normal. Room was Jack's normal, partly because Ma made it as good a place to live as possible, but mostly because it was all he knew.
I think it would be interesting to read this same story from Ma's point of view. If I were reading this with a book group, and I wish I could, her story is what I'd like to talk about most.
One of the descriptions of this book is "darkly beautiful" and I think that sums it up perfectly.