Home > contemporary, Genre, thriller > Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Multiple colored letters spelling out the word Room.Summary:
Most of the time it’s just Jack and Ma in Room.  Jack likes watching shows on the planets on the television, but Ma only lets him watch two a day.  She says his brain will turn to mush if he watches it too much.  So instead they have phys ed where they run track in a smile around the bed or Jack plays trampoline while Ma calls out his moves.  Sometimes Ma reads to Jack or they lay in the sun that comes in through the skylight.  All day things are good in Room.  But every night Old Nick comes, and Jack has to stay in Wardrobe while Old Nick spends time with Ma.  Ma doesn’t like it when Old Nick comes.  Neither does Jack.  Jack’s whole life Ma has told him only they are real, and everything on television and in books is just stories.  But one day she tells him those were lies.  And now she’s unlying.  Because they have to escape soon to Outside. Outside Room.

This is a mind-blowingly powerful book.  I totally devoured it.  It was impossible to put it down.  Told entirely from the perspective of 5 year old Jack who was born in Room, it puts an incredibly heart-wrenching and revealing look into what has unfortunately been all over the news in recent years.  Cases of women kidnapped and then locked up to be used by their kidnappers as, essentially, sex slaves.  These cases often result in the births of children, and although stories have been told from the woman’s point of view, I am unaware of any others that tell them from the child’s point of view.

I have no idea how Donoghue was able to sound so completely like an actual 5 year old, but not just a 5 year old.  A 5 year old going through such a unique and painful situation.  From the very first page, I entirely believed that I was listening to what was going on inside Jack’s head.  That means sometimes there are a few paragraphs about playing, and how Jeep and Remote Control play and fight with each other.  But it also reveals what incredible insight children can have into life.  That children are in fact little people and should be respected as such.  For example, at one point Jack says:

I have to remember they’re real, they’re actually happening in Outside all together.  It makes my head tired.  And people too, firefighters teachers burglars babies saints soccer players and all sorts, they’re all really in Outside.  I’m not there, though, me and Ma, we’re the only ones not there.  Are we still real? (Location 1257-1261)

Jack is simultaneously childlike and insightful, and that lends a powerfully unique touch to a tale of evil inflicted on others.  I honestly cannot think of anyone I would not recommend this book to, except perhaps someone for whom the events in it might be triggering.  Beyond that, everyone should have the experience of reading it.

5 out of 5 stars

Source: Amazon

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  1. November 2, 2010 at 8:41 am

    I couldn’t tell from the premise if this was sci fi or realistic so this helped. Sounds like an interesting/disturbing book. Thanks for the great review.

    • November 3, 2010 at 9:19 am

      Yes, I thought it might be scifi/zombies when I first heard about it. It was an unexpected but wonderful surprise. Thanks for the complement!

  2. jpetroroy
    November 2, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I really, really want to read this. Great review.

    • November 3, 2010 at 9:18 am

      Thanks Jen! That’s a big complement from you. 🙂

  3. November 4, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    I’ve been hearing great things about Rom everything where I look (including here!), I have really got to find a copy!!!

    • November 5, 2010 at 8:57 am

      Great! I’ll look forward to seeing what you think of it!

  4. November 5, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Sounds really interesting and disturbing. Officially adding it to my list of books to acquire.

    • November 8, 2010 at 8:53 am

      Yay! I look forward to reading your review. 🙂

  1. December 30, 2010 at 1:08 am

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