- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd; 1st Edition edition (Aug. 30 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1554688310
- ISBN-13: 978-1554688319
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.5 x 23.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 476 g
- Average Customer Review: 242 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #111,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Room Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Aug 30 2010
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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 ()
Top customer reviews
Five year old Jack has lived his whole life in one room. His mother (having been kidnapped) was forced to raise Jack in horrific, cramped conditions and led him to believe in a warped sense of reality in which Room is the entire world.
As this will be a no spoiler review, I'll keep it short and sweet:
Told through the point of view of Jack, we see everything through the eyes of a five year old child who doesn’t understand societal norms, and doesn’t quite understand what is real and what is not. To be perfectly honest, while Jack is understandably confused and doesn’t have a firm grasp on the world, at times I found his ignorance to be annoying as a narrator. His reactions to everything was of course justified in his eyes, but they still made me unbelievably frustrated at times. And on that note, I have to give the author credit because if I was getting frustrated, you know for a fact that Joy, Jack’s mother, was a million times more frustrated with their situation. This book gave me an unbelievable amount of empathy and sorrow for people who are forced to live in conditions like these. It's easy to forget but this actually happens to people. And it's scary as hell.
The book being thru the child's eyes gives the reader such pride and respect for the mother and all she has protected him from to keep his innocence.
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