Room: by Emma Donoghue

Have you read this book? If so, you’ll know what I mean when I say:  everything about it is BRAVE – the characters, the plot, the language, the writing. You could never confuse this novel with any other.

The story opens in a 12-foot-square room. Since being abducted at 19, a young woman has spent the last seven years of her life in there. She now has a son, Jack, and it is his old-for-five voice that narrates the book.

“Ma” is devoted to creating a nurturing environment for her boy, and by doing so, she has kept herself sane.  Because there are no people for Jack to interact with, Ma has encouraged him to give personalities to all the objects in Room  – Wardrobe, Rug, Plant, Table. They have a TV with poor reception, and to Jack the different programs are planets. His favorite one is the Dora the Explorer planet.

The plot is chilling but the language is not graphic. Donoghue is extremely skilled at mixing the horrendous with the hopeful – but she never dilutes Jack and Ma’s plight. The reader knows exactly what’s going on in Room..

“Old Nick” is their unsophisticated psycho-pathetic captor, which makes him all the more terrifying. Jack and Ma are at his clumsy mercy. Ma knows that if he gets too stressed, he could just drive away and leave them – Some days Jack says Ma is gone. These are the times when she succumbs to abject depression. Yet she has taught her son to deal with this too. He simply waits, sitting quietly until her fierce, protective love pulls her gently back to Jack.

I became so drawn into “Room” that I read half of it in one sitting. I had to stop because I couldn’t focus anymore. All I could think of was getting back to Ma and Jack. While my eyes rested, someone moved “Room” from it’s place – I went hysterical… Emma Donoghue’s writing is THAT powerful.

Fortunately, the self preservation instincts of the whole household kicked in, and we searched until the book was found. I stole back under my covers to read through to the end.

Ma knows that she must get Jack out of Room. The way she does this is desperate. I thought she made mistakes… “This won’t work!” I screamed…  I wanted to jump into the pages and save her and Jack. But to my relief, Jack pulls through.

Imagine a 5 year old child thrust into the wide, wide world when all he’s ever known is a 12’ X 12’ one… He recognizes some things from the TV planets. What a shock to see they really exist.

For the first time Jack and Ma are separated, and he must cope with so much newness – all on his own. Jack is shocked to see the lack of care people seem to have for one another. Again I wanted to take him in my arms…

Of all the books I read last year, “Room” definitely stood out… it was absolutely my favorite…  Let me know what you thought of it.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Room: by Emma Donoghue

  1. Thanks for an interesting review, Joanna. In the last few years, I seem to have “tuned out” to fiction, but this one sure does sound interesting.

    For those of you wanting another such review, check out:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/books/review/Bender-t.html

    And Jan–I have seen the book here in Mérida–probably at Sanborns (but they tend to only have newer best-sellers, so you probably cannot find it there anymore), or maybe even at MELL.

  2. jan morgan

    Where can I find it?

  3. This was a very nice post. I enjoyed reading your blog today very much.

    Love to write?

    Check out these Writing Jobs

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