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Room [Deckle Edge] [Hardcover]

Emma Donoghue
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
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Hardcover, Deckle Edge, Aug. 30 2010 CDN $18.80  
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Book Description

Aug. 30 2010 Governor General's Literary Awards-Romans Et Nouvelles (Fict

WINNER! 2010 Rogers Writers' Trust Award for Fiction

SHORTLISTED for the 2010 Man Booker Prize

SHORTLISTED for the 2010 Governor General's Award

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It’s where he was born and where he and his Ma eat and play and learn. At night, Ma puts him safely to sleep in the wardrobe, in caseOld Nick comes.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it’s the prison where Old Nick has kept her for seven years, since she was nineteen. Through ingenuity and determination, Ma has created a life for herself and her son, but she knows it’s not enough for either ofthem. Jack’s curiosity is building alongside Ma’s desperation -- and Room can’t contain either of them for much longer...

Told entirely in the inventive, often funny voice of Jack, Room is a celebration of the resilient bond between parent and child, and a brilliantly executed novel about a journey from one world to another.

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Product Details

Product Description

Quill & Quire

Emma Donoghue steps outside of her comfort zone with Room, her new novel. The Irish-born novelist, who now makes her home in London, Ontario, is known primarily for her richly detailed historical fiction (such as 2000’s Slammerkin) and stories exploring lesbian relationships. Her latest effort is quite a departure, and it seems to be working: the book garnered a spot on the Man Booker Prize shortlist.   

The plot bears resemblance to the horrific true events surrounding Austrian Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter imprisoned in a soundproof bunker in his basement for 24 years, fathering seven children by her. Rather than having the imprisoned woman tell her story, Donoghue places the narrative in the hands of a child born into a 12’ x 12’ room, the only home he’s ever known.

As a narrator, five-year-old Jack is tremendously enticing. His mother, kidnapped seven years earlier while walking through her college campus at age 19, has created a world for her son that is rich in play and learning, all the while anticipating the day they might make their “great escape.” This environment has provided Jack with an impressive vocabulary, though his advanced learning is juxtaposed with the natural innocence and bewilderment of a small child. The result is a story told through a child’s eyes, but in language that is endearing rather than tiresome.

The pace and plot of the story are both pitch perfect, though after the climax midway through the book, the reader may wonder what could be left to say. A great deal, it turns out, as Jack faces a whole new world of unfamiliarity and fear. Earnest and bright, he is remarkably adaptable, and provides commentary that is lushly intricate.

The character of Ma, while not the main voice, is nevertheless whole. Donoghue employs Jack’s descriptions of her moods, conversations, and thoughts to paint a picture of a woman struggling to keep it together for the sake of her child, while also fighting to become the person she once was and might be again, if circumstances allow.

Room is disturbing, thrilling, and emotionally compelling. Emma Donoghue has produced a novel that is sure to stay in the minds of readers for years to come.


"I loved Room. Such incredible imagination, and dazzling use of language. And with all this, an entirely credible, endearing little boy. It's unlike anything I've ever read before."
- Anita Shreve, author of The Pilot's Wife ()

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
98 of 104 people found the following review helpful
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 50 REVIEWER
Jack is the narrator of `Room'. Jack is excited by his fifth birthday, is curious about the world and full of energy. But Jack's physical world is contained within an 11 by 11 foot space called Room where he and his Ma live. This is Jack's world: the room and its contents, and his mother. Because we are viewing this world through Jack's eyes, we are protected in part from his mother's awful reality. Jack recounts what he sees and experiences and the reader knows the situation that Jack and his Ma are in. But Jack does not: this is his life and this is the only world he knows.

In Jack's world, he has songs and stories. He has a snake made from egg shells, and a maze made from toilet roll inserts. He has the unreal world of television which he sometimes watches in unlimited amounts when Ma doesn't get out of bed. For Jack, these are the days `when Ma is gone'.

One day Ma tells Jack that there is a world outside Room. And this becomes the beginning of another story, one which is best read uninfluenced by reviews and story synopses.

I added this book to my reading list because it is on the Man Booker 2010 longlist. I had some misgivings about reading it given the subject matter but once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I would have found it unbearable if it was written from the perspective of Ma. Our view, through Jack's eyes, is more focussed on the relationship between son and mother than on the situation itself. The book ends, but the story isn't over.

It's like a crater, a hole where something happened.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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52 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not Great Sept. 28 2010
By Nicola Mansfield HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Reason for Reading: With this subject matter, who is *not* wanting to read this book?

A 26 year old woman has been kidnapped and held captive in a soundproof, escape-proof 11 x 11 foot Room for 7 years. She has a five year old son, Jack. She cares for him fiercely and has created a world for him out of that Room, giving him everything she possibly can that he needs to grow properly, physically and emotionally. They do daily exercises, she teaches him, etc. This is their story, of their day-to-day life, their escape and how they cope on the Outside. A truly fascinating story to start with is only topped by the fact that it is told in the first person narrative of five year old Jack.

I'm going to start by saying this is a hard review for me to write. I agonized over my rating. There is not doubt that Room is a wonderful piece of writing. The subject matter is enticing and the reality of the situation has been explored to such detail that one is amazed the author could have thought of some things without having actually experienced captivity herself. The book is divided into distinct sections, each one focusing intensely on a certain stage of Jack and Ma's story. Donoghue has managed to write about a horrific situation without ever actually putting in print any scenes that show the obvious s*xual violence that was perpetrated. In the hands of a lesser author this could have become a much more graphic story thus losing Ms. Donoghue's perceptive touch. The book reads fast, is compelling and is tremendously well written.

So why is this review hard to write? I didn't love the book. Yes, it was good. Good enough to keep me reading, and reading quickly too. The second half was better than the first, as in enjoying the story and the characters.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Six star read Sept. 20 2010
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Where to start?! This is one of the best books of the year for me. I really love Emma Donoghue's writing, but was a little afraid of Room. The subject matter seemed a little frightening and I wasn't sure I wanted to venture inside. I am soooo glad I read it.

Room is the story of Jack and his Ma. Jack has just turned 5 when the book opens. Room is where Jack and Ma live. The world is 11' by 11' to Jack - that's the size of the room his mother has been imprisoned in since she was kidnapped seven years ago - and where Jack was born.

The day to day life, routines, games and learning Ma has developed to raise an imaginative, intelligent, happy little boy under seemingly overwhelming circumstances were simply amazing. The relationship between mother and child had me in tears - it was unbelievably poignant. The book is told in Jack's voice. And what a voice Donoghue has created! Jack's view of his 'world' is by turns heartbreaking, funny, frightening yet joyful and optimistic. Just think - this little boy does not realize that there is a world outside of their space. space.

It is when Jack turns five, that Ma fears the room is getting too small and that time is running out....

I've tried many times to put my thoughts into words for this review and have come up short every time. All I can say is it's a book you want to read. A gut wrenching, emotional, terrifying, addicting, hopeful, satisfying read that you won't be able to put down. Really.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Sitting Nov. 20 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read most of this book in one sitting. It haunted and entertained me. As a writer, I was fascinated by the narration, the memorable anecdotes, and the plot. I will study the narrative drive of this book because I really couldn't put it down. This book reminded me that really good novels typically only have a few strong characters. As a mother, I was moved and inspired by the main character's approach to raising Jack. If you are in a reading slump, and you need something to get you back to books, read Room. You'll have no idea what to read next.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Well written, believable with sadness and hope.
Published 9 days ago by Candace Brochmann
3.0 out of 5 stars the story is a good one.
Inconsistent use of language that is supposedly the child's story from that perspective. If you are not put off by the writer's lack of knowledge on 4 - 5 year old speech and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Deanie L. Kolybabi
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Great concept and well written - just way too disturbing for me to enjoy it.
Published 1 month ago by ZoeKegan
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a novel as I see novels.
Easy to digest, but a strange unfulfilling feeling afterward. I liked the novel and its conceptual messages but it wasn't to me a novel - it was more a philosophizing phantasy of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Waymark, Graeme
5.0 out of 5 stars superb
Really interesting concept and execution. The story is told from the perspective of the five year old boy in the story and the author pulls this off wonderfully. Read more
Published 1 month ago by green eggs and sam
3.0 out of 5 stars ROOM
A strange book, But you can see it happening.. To not be able to have fresh air and trapped in a box . What if you were claustrophobic.
Published 5 months ago by ELLEN M POVIN
5.0 out of 5 stars Room
Heartrending and heartwarming tale written from the boys perspective. I love how his mother made the best of their hostage situation for her son. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Barbara Chessum
4.0 out of 5 stars great book - very real
This book was very touching - could very well be a true story. Great read kept me turning the pages! I would recommend it to anyone.
Published 6 months ago by Erica
5.0 out of 5 stars Another perspective
Loved this book! Definitely was easy to get emotionally connected to the narrator. Didn't want the book to end. Great perspective.
Published 6 months ago by Jen1482
4.0 out of 5 stars A twist in narrative
I really liked the idea of telling the story from the boy's outlook. To have told it from the mother's view would lost the engaging element of the book.
Published 6 months ago by stemacsand
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