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 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.
on December 3, 2015
Room by Emma Donoghue has been on my radar for a long time, but it kept being pushed to the bottom of my TBR pile. I finally took a stance, though, and pulled it out because I kept seeing promos for the movie coming out and it looks really great, so it was about time I actually read it.
I had read that this was told primarily in the voice of five year old Jack, which kind of worried me. I thought it would be hard to warm up to and difficult to read, and while it is very much childish language, it flows easily as well and doesn’t take a lot of effort to make your way through.
The thing about this though is it doesn’t allow for much background information on the situation or thoughts from Ma. We are really only seeing and learning through the eyes of a five year old and frankly, that gets kind of old quick. The first part of the book is kind of slow as a result; we are basically just taking in the surroundings of Room and learning about Jack as Jack sees Jack.
[MAJOR SPOILERS] That said, what I think I liked best about this book was that it didn’t take the entire book for them to escape, so that kind of slow build did lead to a quick pay off not too far into things. The escape process was pretty quick and maybe a bit rushed over, but I liked that it happened around the middle of the book, so that we had the rest of the story to see how they adapted to the real world and had the opportunity to follow through with their captor.
It was interesting to read about their survival in the real world. About how Jack just wanted to go back to Room, not quite understanding what his reality was there. And how Ma was kind of judged for certain decisions she made in raising Jack, when she had such limited choices and opportunities. That complexity of life after Room was really the most interesting, to be able to see how people deal and cope and express.
This was ultimately an emotional read, obviously it’s a terrible situation and it’s powerful to see them overcome such a thing. I can’t wait to see how this all plays out on screen, from what I can tell it looks like a beautiful and powerful adaptation.
Originally posted on citygirlscapes.com
on July 10, 2011
I was a bit nervous about reading this book. I didn't know if I could handle the subject matter. I decided to just read the first chapter and decide from there. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down! Other reviewers have done a good job of telling you what the book was about. I found that 'Room' reminded me of two other works; 'The Lovely Bones', and the movie 'A Beautiful Life'. In both of these works the creators show the human side of inhumane situations. In 'The Lovely Bones' the author did not deal so much with the horror of the rape/murder as she did with the events that surrounded it. In 'A Beautiful Life' a father shields his son from the horror of a Natzi Concentration Camp using love, humor and games. In 'Room' the focus of the story is on the happy moments in the life that the mother creates for her son in spite of their 12' x 12' prison. A well written and thought provoking novel. It would be great for discussing at a Book Club.
on November 19, 2011
(...)It starts with a five year old talking: Jack. At first you think it is a joke but everything seems serious so you keep on frowning trying to make sense of it all. Little by little you start figuring out that there is a mother as well, and they are both in a room rather small, eleven by eleven; you find out the dimensions when they find out, as they realise how to measure without a tape measure (that would be a waste of the 'Sunday treat').
The intrigue goes on and on, everything seems surreal to the extreme as you discover that the boy thinks the room is the whole world and everything else is 'in TV'. His hair has not been cut since the day he was born and he breast feeds. Baby Jesus gives them food and the face of God is to be seen through the skylight. The boy turns five and you are puzzled as per why his mother cannot give him any other present than a drawing she made, drawing he has to hide in Wardrobe, where he sleeps. So you start counting possibilities: aliens? Year 2150 something? No one else on planet Earth which actually does not exist anymore?
Well, mystery solved when 'old Nick' appears into the picture. Jack is hidden in the wardrobe and counts his teeth to fall asleep, then counts the squeaking that Bed makes when 'old Nick' goes on Bed with Ma. Jack is allowed to go on Bed under 'Duvet' only after 'old Nick' is gone. Bingo, they are hostages, she has been kidnapped, the boy was born there, he does not know anything else. Intrigue becomes interest as you want to know more, you cannot believe that this is happening and every detail is a crescendo of clues that you are trying to assemble for a better image of the whole puzzle.(...)
To see the entire review go to allwords.ca
on March 28, 2011
As a whole i really enjoyed this book. Definately unlike any other i have read. What i feel is keeping me from giving it 5 stars was that i found it difficult to follow exactly what jack was saying in the very beginning. I got a little discouraged trying to decipher his little kid "voice" but found that it only got easier as the book went on. In fact, in the second part of the book i really appreciated his narrative and often found it quite humorous. Perhaps i just grew accustomed? or maybe it just really was easier to understand.. i will have to read it a second time to figure this out i guess. I would definately recommend this book to my friends!
on December 9, 2015
The novel written by Emma Donoghue is a good read. It starts off with Ma and her son Jack. They live in a shed that they call ''room''.
Ma and Jack do everything together. Ma has lived in this tiny room for over seven years, and its starting to take its toll. She stays strong for her five year old son. Jack has never felt the warm sunshine of the sun against his skin, he has only seen it from a skylight. The skylight is a symbol for the outside world Jack doesn't know about. The story is told through a five year olds perspective. Its a quick and great read. Looking forward to see if the movie is any good.
on March 1, 2016
I really enjoyed the book. Very much liked how it was written with the boy as narrator. A different approach. Kept me wanting to go back to it to see what was happening with the two main characters. Also liked that it did a nice job of showing the deep bond between Mother and Son and that we did not have to get too grisly or graphic with details on Big Nick's 'visits'. Recommend.
on February 23, 2016
It starts very interesting, but then the story becomes too unrealistically, too different from what the reader expects, at least from my point of view and I read at least a book a week, studied litterature, but I do not regret to reading it because I always like to read the book before seeing the movie... from Clo in Canada