Friday, October 21, 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

In Room, Jack, who has just turned 5, and his Ma live in Room. To him, Room is his home, but it's also the whole world. He was born there and has never left. Everything else, including the stuff he sees on TV, is make-believe. That includes trees, rivers, Dora the Explorer...everything. Even though Jack has spent his whole life in Room, it hasn't always been that way for his Ma. Room is a prison where she's been kept for 7 years. Between his imagination and her determination, it's only a matter of time before Room will no longer be able to contain them.

I loved this book, however, it wasn't love at first sight. At first, I shied away from it because I thought the subject matter would be so intense that I wouldn't be able to get through it. I needed to be in the right frame of mind. When I was finally ready and picked it up to read, the language in which it's written bothered me. It's written from Jack's point of view and is very much like a five-year-old talking. I found it hard to get into. Maybe I wasn't ready after all. A few weeks later, I gave it another try. Finally, I could hear Jack speaking to me. From then on there was no turning back.

This story could be ripped from the headlines and that's what made it fascinating and believable. It's so sad that something like this could happen. While the parts of the story were definitely horrific, there were parts that were somewhat (strangely) uplifting and humorous. I couldn't help but laugh at some of Jack's antics.   I love that is was written from his point of view.  It would have been a very  different story had it been written from Ma's point of view. 

Jack and Ma were both wonderful characters. Despite Jack's limited exposure to the real world, he turned out quite normal. In some ways, he was more mature than other kids of the same age. In other ways, he was behind them. He didn't realize what he was missing in the outside world, because Ma had taught him that Room was everything. I think Jack was Ma's saviour. Without him, she was lost. Without him, the outcome of the story would have been very different. As for Ma, I can't imagine what she was going through. She knew there was more to the world than Room, yet here she was, trapped in a 11x11 room with her 5-year-old son. They couldn't leave. Old Nick, her captor, was a constant threat and besides Jack she had no one to talk to or to comfort her.

I had a couple of quotes marked down to put in this review, but I realize now that they just might spoil the ending.

I have been recommending this book to number of people, but have been deliberately vague about anything that happens in the book. I've tried to do the same here in this review. The ending and the way it unfolds is best discovered by the reader.

Highly recommended. I have a few more books by Donoghue on my to-be-read bookshelf. I'm really looking forward to them.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins Canada website.

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Emma Donoghue's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins Canada for this review copy.

Room by Emma Donoghue, HarperCollins, ©2010. ISBN 9781554686319(Hardcover), 321p.


  1. I also have this one for review. Hopefully I can get to it soon!

  2. Glad you were able to get into this. It is a good story. I reviewed it a while back and will link with yours when I get back to my computer.

  3. I listened to this book instead of reading it. The narrator's voice was perfect for Jack and I think that really helped me with it. My book club read the book and a couple of people really liked it but a couple also had problem with the writing style. I thought it was perfect myself. Donoghue is an interesting writer I think although I also haven't read anything else by her.

  4. I really did love this book, but like you I had to get used to the way Jack described things.

  5. Thanks for stopping by everyone.

  6. I've been avoiding this book for the same reasons you did - totally scared of the subject matter. But now that I've read your review, I'll probably give it a go.


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