Don’t be fooled by the happy banter of five year old Jack, the narrator, who was born and has lived all his life with his mother in an 11 square foot shed. Jack’s mother tries to keep him safe in this small world, as she masks the fear and monotony with games, creates toys from eggshells and wadded paper, teaches him to read and count, and hides him in the wardrobe – hidden from Old Nick’s nightly visits.
It’s clear from the beginning that Jack’s mother has been abducted and both are imprisoned by a crazed and cruel monster. I stopped reading this book after the first section – it’s hard to take – almost a horror story – but I had to go back, hoping for revenge, retribution, rescue…had to know what would happen – and then could not put it down until I finished it. Be prepared for a late night read.
It would spoil the story to tell you much more – the suspense is thrilling. Keep going – past the first necessary but awful section titled “presents.” Keep going; you’ll find the power of maternal love, even a little humor – and a rewarding awareness of the world in the voice of a child.