Written by Canadian author Emma Donoghue, this is a thriller with a twist: it is narrated by Jack, a five-year-old boy. He has lived his entire life with Ma, his mother, in an eleven by eleven foot room in a shed kept locked by Ma’s captor. We see reality through Jack’s eyes through the games he and Ma play together, the chores they perform and the meals they prepare. A fantasy world is viewed on a television set with poor reception. At night, Jack goes to sleep in a cupboard before Old Nick, Ma’s captor, comes to visit.We learn that Ma was a college student kidnapped by Old Nick seven years ago. Jack is his child too. Ma has carefully raised Jack, schooling him to read, write, count and add, and providing what physical activities she can in the limited space. But she fears his social and emotional life will be stunted if they continue to be captives. She hatches a plan for them to escape, one that will put Jack at risk. But miraculously he succeeds and he and Ma are both freed.
The second half of the book describes their adjustment, both physical and psychological, to the outside world. In their former life, there were no boundaries in Jack’s relationship with Ma; he felt as though she was a part of him. In the outside world, he met members of his mother’s family and lived with them while Ma was hospitalized for a psychological breakdown. With his mother’s return to him, Jack expresses his desire to return to Room, to see that it still exists and to say goodbye to it, somewhat in the style of Goodnight Moon, his favorite book. They go there, and then return to their new lives, giving the reader the sense that they will survive and succeed.