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 ()
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Top Customer Reviews
One other thing that I found distracting was that two separate people would be speaking in the same paragraph. I was taught in school that this doesn't happen & is grammatically incorrect and I am not making a living writing books.
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.'
Most recent customer reviews
Amazing book!!! I love it!!!!!!! Way better then the movie!!!Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I didn't want to read this book. The subject did not appeal to me as a book. However, it was chosen by my Bookclub. I didn't think I would enjoy it at all. Read morePublished 1 month ago
I just finished reading Room and it was spellbinding !!! I could not put this book down !!!Published 2 months ago by Patsy Jolene Sleeman
Great read. Thought provoking about family relationships, spending time wisely with those you love and living with less. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Veronica Dwyer