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.'
on November 2, 2015
I got this audiobook from the library and it is one of the best I have ever listened to. The performance in the key role of Jack is just outstanding and everyone else is also very good. The book itself is extremely affecting to the point I was thinking about the characters and worrying about them as if they were real people. Highly recommended. I had put off listening to it for years because of worry about the subject matter being too distressing but that was unwarranted.
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. I really enjoyed the introduction of Grandpa Leo, Steppa. He was the most real character in the whole book. I often found myself annoyed while reading the book. The child's narrative just didn't win me over. I didn't hate it but it felt detached somehow and thus I felt detached from the characters. I never had any great emotional response to the boy and his mother, which I *really* wanted to have. None of the other characters were fully developed, even Steppa , but he at least had the behaviour of a real person and came to life for me.
As you can see I had problems with the book, while appreciating it. Now that I've finished it, my immediate response is "Yeah, it was good." I wouldn't grab people and say you *must* read this book, but if anyone asked me I'd recommend it with my reservations as noted above. I may feel differently about my rating a month (a year) from now but it's been 6 days since I've written this review and I still feel the same way. Very well written, but only good, not great.
on January 13, 2011
Room is by far the most intriguing and unusual book I've read this year. On the surface, it is a chilling account of a heinous crime in which a young woman is abducted, repeatedly raped and locked in a fortified sound-proof room for seven years. What makes the story so compelling is that it's told from the point of view of her innocently precocious five-year-old son, Jack, who has spent his entire life inside the room, completely isolated from the outside world. But Room is much more than just a heart-wrenching crime story. It's also a fascinating exploration of the way in which the mind constructs its own unique version of reality, completely subjective in nature and shaped by its environment. In Jack's case, the extreme lack of sensory stimuli in his restricted environment severely distorts his concept of reality, impairing his ability to function in the outside world. By using Jack as narrator the author allows us to experience the boy's distress and confuson firsthand. It also gives her the opportunity to infuse some comic relief into the story as Jack dizzily tries to wrap his brain around the hundreds of new sensations that confront him. Seeing things through Jack's eyes, we also come to appreciate the incredibly strong bond that exists between mother and child. Despite their deprived circumstances, or perhaps because of them, Jack's mother is determined to nurture and educate her son to the best of her ability, preparing him for the day when they will be freed from captivity. Throughout their ordeal, she shows remarkable courage, resilience and single-mindedness, never abandoning hope and never allowing Jack to sense the grim reality of their plight. Room is a powerful, thought-provoking novel and a one-of-a-kind reading experience that is not to be missed.
on November 1, 2013
Room was definitely a good read. It was interesting, unique, and terrifying to think that these things actually happen. The story is told in first person narration from the point of view of a five-year-old boy named Jack. I found it a bit difficult to read at first due to the fact that it was told from a child's perspective. Well, not difficult per se, just different and caused me to read a bit slower than normal at first. But, like any book with a different writing style, you get used to it and are able to enjoy the story. And in this case, come to appreciate the writing.
Donoghue did a great job with Jack's voice. He definitely talks and thinks how a little kid would. But she did it in a way that it's not painful or annoying to read. It's quite enjoyable.
It's interesting thinking about all the things Jack wouldn't be familiar with or know about or understand. He's never been outside of that room, never experienced normal life. I thought that Donoghue did a good job of realizing all the things Jack wouldn't get, even the less obvious ones. I found myself forgetting until Jack would be confused by something so simple. I think this story would be very difficult to write for that reason, let alone the narration.
I have many other thoughts on the story, but I don't want to say any of them due to spoilers. So, I think I'll just end my review here and you'll just have to read it yourself!
on September 29, 2011
I had no desire to read Emma Donahue's international bestseller, Room. I didn't give a hoot that it had been shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prize, had won the Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Prize ' Canada & Caribbean Region, and the Canadian Booksellers' Association Libris Awards ' Fiction Book and Author of the Year. For me, a story narrated by a five-year-old who is held captive in a single room with his mother was not a place I wanted to visit. Especially in my fertile imagination, where there lurks a disturbing preponderancy for horrific after-shock.
But when Room was chosen as the kick-off read this September for a book club I've belonged to for many years, I felt compelled to give it a try. Especially since I bought it for a screamin' deal at my local grocery store. Unsure whether this intervention was divine or satanic, I cracked open the covers.
The story is told by Jack, in a voice that is at once persuasive, precocious and charming. To him, his world is not unusual and on this level the reader is introduced to all the things that delight, interest, bore, disgust and anger him. And when we view the 13-ft. square room that is his world from this perspective, it is not a scary, evil, dark or sinister place. The creep factor is on the secondary level. For this, Ms Donahue gets an A+. The tension between what Jack 'sees' and what the reader 'knows' is seismic.
Narrating the story from a five-year-olds' perspective is at once daring and unique. No doubt this is one of the primary reasons the book has been so well-received. Authors like Ms Donahue who take risks; who push, pull and bend the novel in new and exciting ways are deserving of recognition and book sales, for they are the trailblazers of innovative narrative paths.
For all I didn't want to read Room and for all I suffered alongside Ma in her reprehensible predicament, ultimately I was glad I persevered to the second half of the story. At this point, Ms Donahue switches gears and we see Jack and Ma enter a new phase. Believe me I couldn't flip the pages fast enough. Here, as Jack's preconceived notions about the world are turned upside down, stretched and questioned, mine were also.
At every turn, Room is a testament of the tremendous love between a mother and son. In the end, Room is thrilling, but lives up to the claim Ms Donahue makes: it's not a nightmare narrative or a heartbreaker; it is a celebratory story of resilience.
Read this book. Just drop everything else and read this book.
I wanted to end my review at the end of my second sentence, but decided that you might want to hear the why behind my statements.
This story is of Jack and his ma. Jack is five and they live in Room. Not a room, but Room. Jack believes that it is the only room, there are no others. He has seen tv, but everything there is not real, it's on a different planet. He has never been outside Room; there is nothing outside. He is too young to understand that his mother was abducted and raped and that he is the result. She has chosen to raise him in ignorance of outside so that he will be content with his life.
I was captivated by this story. It's not that it was exciting or glamorous or even brutal. I had to know more about this little boy and how he could behave so normally under such bizarre circumstances. I read in awe of this compact world that author Emma Donoghue had so convincing created. There have been several instances where women have been held captive similar to this and I imagine that they must have constructed similar rules for their tiny worlds.
I can't say I loved this book, as it's not the type of story that inspires love. Rather it is a compelling one that I found hard to put down. It will stick with me for a long time.
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.
on February 23, 2011
I read this book a little while ago, more than anything, further to the video attached to this book (I've yet to see that as a selling feature, I guess it works!).
This book was a page turner for me from beginning to end and I had it finished within a few short days. The story is unique and haunting leaving the reader with a feeling of fear for young futures as well as hope for those that are brave.
Without saying anything about the story itself, Room centres around the body of love and what it can bring an individual, more importantly a parent, to do to protect those loved ones.
I loved this book despite necessary repetition and a somewhat predictable ending. Well worth the read!
on October 30, 2011
I would have to agreed with Nicola Manning's review of 'Room'. I only read this book because it was recommended by my book club. It is definitely a book I wouldn't put on my high priority list to read but then again it wasn't the worst book I have read. I struggled to get through the first chapter of the book. Most of the story is told through the eyes of a child which I found at times tiresome to read (a bit simple), especially the first chapter. Without giving the plot away, I won't tell the viewers the story but it does pick up and get better as more characters are introduced in the book. It will be interesting to see how the review comes up in my book club next month as we discuss it.