Book Reviews: ROOM

Monday, December 27, 2010

by Emma Donoghue

Jack, a 5-year-old, lives in Room with his Ma. In Room they have Table, Bed, Wardrobe and a few other things. Jack loves their home and his happy life there. Sometimes Old Nick brings them food or other surprises, but only at night.

In reality, Ma was kidnapped when she was 19 and Room is the 11x11 foot prison that she’s lived in for seven years. Old Nick is her capture and Jack is the product of rape. This sounds horrific, but the story is presented entirely through Jack’s innocent eyes, making it absolutely memorizing. Inspired by a true story, Donoghue let her imagination run wild and created a nightmare situation for her characters. The brilliance truly lies in narrator she chose. Telling the story through a child allows her filter the heavy material. Jack can’t be disturbed by something he doesn’t understand, so he avoids much of the heartache his mother is saddled with.


I really loved the fact that Donoghue showed us what happens after they leave the Room. There’s no happily ever after, instead the story is as much about their transition into the “real” world as it is about their confinement.

Imagine surviving something so horrific for seven years and then being mobbed by media figures while talk show hosts questioned your parenting choices. It’s an unbelievably impossible situation.

At first the breast feeding thing really weirded me out. I know that’s mainly because a) I’m not a mom and have never breastfed and b) Our society has made it a taboo. That being said I thought about living in a tiny room where you can’t control your food source. You have a child to care for and the person you’re dependant upon for sustenance is evil and vindictive. Would you really cut off your one reliable source of food for your child? No, of course you wouldn’t.


Room is one of the most fascinating books I read this year. It was thought-provoking and engrossing. It took a terrifying situation and presented it in an accessible way. I connected with the characters and didn’t want to say goodbye at the end of the book. It was everything you can ask for from a novel.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

So happy that you enjoyed this book --me too!

Amanda said...

I'm so glad to hear this is a good one!

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

Actually, the part where Ma was interview raised a lot of questions in my brain, mostly about Ma's decision to keep Jack with her. At the end, though, I couldn't decide whether Ma made the right decision or not. Maybe because I'm not a parent yet....

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Darlyn - I agree, I'm not a parent and it was an impossible situation. I really loved the fact that the author left some grey areas and room for discussion. It was fascinating.

Carrie K. said...

Definitely a thought-provoking read. I also was glad that the book didn't end with the escape, but that she explored the adjustment to "normal" life, too. What a horrible thing to go through - and she wrote it so well.

Jenners said...

I thought the world of this book ... and you had the best "defense" of the breast-feeding thing. It just amazed me how a lot of readers were so weirded out by it ... it seemed like the ONLY thing she could do!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners - At first it caught me off guard, but the more I thought about it, the more obvious it seemed.