Thursday, September 23, 2010

Room by Emma Donoghue

* WARNING -- there may be some mild spoilers *

  I honestly am at a loss for words to describe this book. 

  Jack is five years old and he lives in Room with his Ma.   Room is a small garden shed where they are being held captive by a man who Jack calls Old Nick (because he comes to Room at night just like Old Saint Nick aka Santa Claus).  Ma has been in Room for seven years and attempts to give Jack a routine and some semblance of a normal childhood, but as this is the only life Jack has ever known, he seems to be quite a happy child.  His relationship to Outside is through the television, where he visits with friends such as Dora the Explorer, and he doesn't "want" for anything he sees since he doesn't not believe any of it is real.

  Then they are rescued (in what is probably now one of my favorite scenes ever) and Ma must readjust to life Outside and Jack must learn about it, without the comforts of Room.  It's unbelievable to read about everything that was necessary -- masks to protect them (especially Jack) from germs they've not been exposed to, and special sunglasses to protect their eyes from the direct sunlight when truly outside are just two examples.  What was truly striking to me was the conflict between Ma's desire to get back her life and her desire to protect Jack, whose exposure to all of these new stimuli was overwhelming and frightening.

  I was a bit leery about reading a novel with such traumatic subject matter, but Room is so well written that even though there were some difficult passages to read (not violent, just heartbreaking) I found it difficult to put the book down. 


  1. I thought that it would be a difficult novel to read as well but she wrote it so wonderfully. I appreciate that she alluded to the more violent aspects rather than actually writing about them and kept the book about Jack and Ma rather than sensationalising (is that a word?) the subject, which many writers would have done.

  2. I have to just read the book without reading your review, I don't really want to read anything to give the story away but I will come back when I have read it and read your review!! Thanks for the warning.

  3. You know, you read all about these sorts of stories in newspapers and magazines, but there's little mention of the effect being released has on the imprisoned people. I like your review of this, and how you you focused on the people, rather than the incident. Definitely will be keeping an eye out for the book!

  4. I am not sure I can read this given the subject matter....but I've been very intrigued!

  5. Shan -- I agree that she didn't sensationalize the topic, although she did seem to mock the media in its coverage of these types of stories, don't you think?

    BookQuoter -- I hope you enjoy the book when you do read it and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    thefriande -- Thank you; I think the book focused on the characters instead of what happened to them as well and that made the story more intriguing for me.

    Rebecca -- I understand your hesitancy, but it ultimately is a well written novel that is not as dreadful as one would think.

  6. I really enjoyed this book, it wasnt as harrowing as I though it would be but very thought provoking.

  7. I've been dying to get my hands on this!! Glad to see you enjoyed it! I've seen nothing but good things!

  8. I was hesitant about reading this novel, but after reding all the positive reviews, I gues I will have to...

  9. I have heard so much about this book. I would love to read it.


What do you think? Good or bad, I'd love to hear from you (but be nice - I'm sensitive!)