Author: Emma Donoghue Series: Standalone Genre: Fiction Release Date: May 18, 2011 Book Length: 321 pages Publisher: Back Bay Books Review: 4/5
To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.
Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it’s the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack’s curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.
Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating–a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.
What an emotional read. For 5-year old Jack, Room isn’t just a shed in the backyard where he and his mother have been held captive by Old Nick, it’s all he knows. To hear this story told from the perspective of a child makes it even more impactful.
Things I liked:
- Jack as the narrator. Jack had an honesty and pureness about him that you can only find in a child. Some of the things he said and thoughts he had made me laugh out loud, which gave the perfect amount of comedic relief. However, the way he viewed the world, or his world as he knew it, Room, was extremely heart wrenching. It was sad watching him try to understand why they had to leave the only place he’d ever known, and I sympathized with him the whole way through.
- Jack’s relationship with his mother. It was absolutely beautiful; you could feel how much she loved her son and wanted to protect him at any cost. For pretty much his whole life, she made him believe that there was nothing wrong with his living situation; at first, I hated that, but then she explained later why she did it and it kind of made sense. She tried to give him as much of a “normal” life as possible in Room, i.e: having him do Phys Ed, teaching him to read and write, etc. Just thinking about someone having to keep the secret of captivity from their child for 5 years gives me goosebumps though, it seems unimaginable.
- The writing. The writing made me question whether I was reading about real people, and I know in the context of this plot, that’s kind of depressing, but something about it made me feel like I knew Jack and his mother for real. I feel a kind of emptiness now that I’m done the book, like I’ve lost a piece of them, and I think that makes this book kind of special.
Things I didn’t like:
- Jack as the narrator. Yes, I said this again. The reason being that although I loved Jack, sometimes his unwillingness to listen and his tendency to repeat things over and over got a little bit annoying. The book was emotional, no doubt. But it’s hard to really pack in the punch at certain parts when a child who doesn’t understand what’s going on is doing the explaining.
- Some events were unrealistic. I’m not going to give anything away, but as one can imagine they obviously found a way to escape this room. The way it happened and how suddenly it happened didn’t really make sense to me. You almost need to force yourself to push any doubtful thoughts aside in order to enjoy it for what it is.
Overall, this was somewhere between a 3.5 and 4, but I ended up just rounding it to 4. I don’t think that this book is for everyone given that the narration has the potential to be off-putting for some. However, I did enjoy the story and am very glad I read this.