Room by Emma Donoghue

I literally just finished reading this book and I’m left nearly speechless by it. Wow, what a powerful, beautiful and haunting book. Room takes us inside the mind of Jack, a young boy who has just turned five who has never known the outside world. In fact, he’s never known that it’s actually existed. The reason being, he’s been raised in an 11 square foot room for his five years of life.

The story is told from his point of view and in the language of a five year old who’s been raised away from the modern world. Jack’s mother was kidnapped at 19 years of age and after being raped, gave birth to him inside of the soundproof cell that they now both live in. But it’s the only home Jack has ever known. Until he’s freed from it and he must adapt to the outside world.

As you can imagine, this poses a LOT of issues and Emma Donoghue handles them so very very well. I just wanted to hug Donoghue for writing this book. I really did. I know that Jack’s mom’s thoughts are not necessarily Donoghue’s own, but I loved Jack’s mom so much. The way she raised him and the bond between the two considering the horrific circumstances they were given. And her attitude after getting out of Room…it was perfect. She’s not a superheroine. And Donoghue could’ve done that if she wanted to, but instead she chose to make her human…chose to make her real.

The genius of this novel comes in the narration itself. In Jack. Beautiful Jack. I haven’t loved a child character in literature this much since Simon in Keri Hulme’s The Bone People. And it’s been about 8 years since I’ve read that book. You would think it would be hard to read a novel written from the mind of a 5 year old who’s almost created his own language, but it’s not at all. It’s actually quite beautiful. It’s humorous at times, heartwarming at times….heartbreaking at times. And Donoghue writes it expertly, never falling out of character…always staying in that viewpoint, yet managing to tell a complete story.

I see this book staying with me for a long time. I see it haunting my mind for days on end, but not necessarily in a bad way. Yes there are things in here that are terrifying, but the story as a whole is quite a beautiful thing. I wish there were more adventures with Jack and his mother. I wish I could follow them further in their lives. But I think the story was left perfectly where it was. And you’ll just have to read it to see where that is 😉


20 Responses

  1. It sounds like a great book!

  2. Why oh why have I not read this yet? I even *have* it already. I almost got squished by a crowd of people for the opportunity to get my hands on it, and everybody has nothing but awesome things to say about it, and yet, it lies unattended to at the bottom of a pile of other books I should be reading. Such is the sad fate of the owner of too many books.

    A perfectly executed child narrator can be so powerful. I loved the one from Matthew Kneale’s When We Were Romans, so I’m especially excited to read another. Anyhow, I guess the upshot of not having read Room yet is that I still have it to look forward to, right? 😉

  3. Your enthusiasm had already sold me on this book…without having a clue what it was about. But now having read your review, I’m nearly desperate to get my hands on it. Wonderful review, Chris. Just beautiful.

  4. I’m so mad! I had the opportunity to get this one at BEA but I’d never heard of it at the time, so I didn’t. Then I got home, found out what it was about, and have been kicking myself ever since, gah!

  5. Wow – I’m going to have to get this one, which reminds me… have you read WHAT JAMIE SAW…? I bet you would love that one too.

  6. This is one I really must get to. Read the first few paragraphs when I was cataloguing it at work and it seems very readable.

  7. I have read two other of Donoghue’s books and really enjoyed both. My library has had copies of this book on order for weeks now, so hopefully they get it in soon because I am dying to read it!

  8. Yes!!! I KNEW you would love it! I just KNEW IT!!! Isn’t it fantastic? Oh my gosh, I loved it. Jack was so precious. So heartbreaking. I just wanted to snatch him up and give him a huge cuddle. I am so glad you finally got to read it!!!

  9. See, I was trying to hold off getting this book and now I really want it! You’re evil Chris… (Although, Heather’s comment above mine doesn’t help matters!)

  10. I can’t wait to read this one, it sounds like such a powerful, must-read book! Great review!

  11. What a fascinating and inventive idea for a story. Certainly sounds like one I would enjoy, especially given your enthusiastic review.

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  13. I have this one and I can’t wait to read it. I love the whole concept of the story. Very original and very current. Glad to hear it was brilliant.

  14. I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this as I have it on my shelves and am looking forward to reading it. The premise of the book sounds so interesting! I didn’t even think about reading it for this challenge but it sounds like a perfect fit!

  15. Never even heard of this one… adding it to my ist of books to look out for as it sounds amazing.

  16. Wow! This sounds fantastic!
    It’s going to have to go on my TBR list!

  17. Visiting from BBAW! So glad I did…I loved this book as well but haven’t gotten the review done!

  18. I just read Kailana’s review of Room and now yours. While I first thought I might be put of by the young narrator I got sort of swiped away by your review and think I would like to read it after all. I found especially appealing what you pointed out about the mom. And your mentioning Keri Hulme. One of my all time favourite books.

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