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Review: Room

October 7, 2010

A nineteen-year old co-ed was grabbed off the street and held captive in a twelve-foot square garden shed where she’s raped repeatedly for years.  It’s a living hell for her and two years later, she gives birth to a boy she names Jack.  Jack gives the young woman a reason to live and she tries to make the shed a home for them.  Now that Jack’s five years old, she’s beginning to feel desperate.

Room by Emma Donoghue is told from the perspective of five-year old Jack.  Room is the only world he knows, so it feels safe and secure to him while it feels like a prison cell to his mother, who he calls Ma.  Ma works hard to make life somewhat normal for Jack – they have physical education, read the few books they have over and over, and limit the time they watch TV.  She does everything she can to protect Jack and hides the truth from him until he turns five, and she decides it’s time to “unlie” to him.  She attempts to explain things to Jack, but it’s all too much for a five-year old to take in.

Oh, how my heart ached for Ma, as she’s called throughout the book.  Her story sounds like one that was plucked from the headlines and I cannot imagine living a nightmare like that.  I’m sure I would not have fared as well as she did.  Jack is her saving grace – not only is he company for her, but caring for and teaching him helps pass the hours.  Jack is a wonderful character, too.  His world is so small and he takes great pleasure in things that we take for granted.

Jack’s language does take a little getting used to.  At first I wondered how a young child with such a large vocabulary could have such poor grammar, and I was afraid it would keep me from becoming engaged with the story.  There was no need to worry, though – I became used to the language and after a little while, didn’t even notice it.  This is a story of love and strength and resilience, and all but the hardest hearts will cheer for Jack and Ma.  I became engrossed in the story and didn’t want to set the book down.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.  Room has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

I heard Emma speak at the SIBA Trade Show this year and she said she got the idea for this book from the Fritzl case.   She wanted to explore two things in Room – what happens to a child when they’re raised away from society, and the strength of the bond between a mother and her child. She said her brother-in-law helped her with some of the details of the book, such as how to fortify Room to make it inescapable.  Heather and I had the opportunity to chat with her for a few minutes after she spoke and I asked her how she managed to keep the voice of a five-year old throughout the book and she told me one of her children was five when she was writing it.   We chatted about a few other things as well, and I found Emma to be charming and humble.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
56 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2010 5:13 am

    Fantastic review….I really liked this book too.

    That is great you got to meet Emma.

  2. October 7, 2010 6:45 am

    That was a great review. I don’t think I’ve seen a negative review of this book actually, which is quite a feat when you are writing in the voice of a five year old. As soon as I finish “My Only Sunshine” I am going to read it for my book club.

  3. October 7, 2010 6:49 am

    yay Kathy…glad this worked for you. I haven’t seen a bad review yet.

  4. October 7, 2010 7:39 am

    I know this book is really sad, but I can’t wait to read it. The storyline is harsh but real.

  5. October 7, 2010 7:41 am

    Wow, it sounds like it would be a tough read for me. But it sounds like it is very well-written.

  6. October 7, 2010 7:55 am

    I’m glad you liked this too!! And I love that you guys got to speak with Emma Donaghue!!!

  7. October 7, 2010 8:59 am

    I’d love to get my hands on this!

  8. October 7, 2010 9:26 am

    Wow! Sounds so intriguing…just like you said, plucked right from the headlines.
    and Lucky you to get to meet the author and chat for a few minutes. There is nothing better than that.

  9. October 7, 2010 9:52 am

    I’ll be starting this one soon. I’m so glad you loved it. How wonderful that you were able to chat with the author. Lucky duck! 🙂

  10. October 7, 2010 10:20 am

    Fantastic review, Kathy! I also really admired ma and her patience, and know that if I was in that position, I would not be able to do half as well as she did. Later on in the book it seems like the toll was finally exacted in her, and I began to understand why she did what she did. I had so much fun meeting Emma, and am going to be framing my little picture with her to put on my bookshelf!

  11. stacybuckeye permalink
    October 7, 2010 10:42 am

    It took me a few great reviews to decide that I was interested in this one. So cool that you were able to chat with the author.

  12. October 7, 2010 11:20 am

    Wow…great review!!!

  13. October 7, 2010 12:42 pm

    Great review Kathy, I really want to read this one, sounds emotional but touching.

    I won’t be surprised to see this on many bloggers favourites of the year.

  14. October 7, 2010 12:45 pm

    This one just sounds so tough to read, an unimaginable situation.

  15. October 7, 2010 1:57 pm

    Kathy, I read Zibilee’s review of Room as well recently. It sounds like a very engrossing book and emotional and unusual book. Excellent review!

  16. October 7, 2010 2:00 pm

    Sounds horrible, I mean what happened to hear, I wonder if I dared read it. Is the evil guy there a lot?

  17. October 7, 2010 2:00 pm

    I was really impressed by Ms. Donoghue’s writing in this novel and I’m curious to read some of her other books. Great review.

  18. October 7, 2010 3:44 pm

    The book sounds intense. I loved your thoughtful and well written review.

  19. October 7, 2010 3:49 pm

    I love your review – its fantastic! I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, because I have it on my TBR list and have heard so many wonderful things about it, that I just didn’t want to be disappointed. And from what you wrote, it sounds like I won’t. Now I can’t wait to read ROOM. And, WOW! That is so great you got to meet the author of the book and chat with her briefly – so very cool! Thanks!!

  20. October 7, 2010 3:59 pm

    It sounds like this is a great read, although the subject matter would be hard to read about.

  21. October 7, 2010 6:23 pm

    Ummmm, seriously?! You got to CHAT with Emma Donoghue?? That is awesome! I can definitely understand how having her own five year old helped Donoghue “stay in character”. I loved this book!

  22. October 7, 2010 7:01 pm

    Good review – sounds like a very interesting book!

  23. October 7, 2010 7:57 pm

    This sounds like a difficult but good read. The topic is not easy. I agree, fantastic review! Adding to my wishlist…

  24. October 7, 2010 7:58 pm

    I really, really want to read this. Been seeing it at the bookstores, read a couple of reviews and now I see it on yours again. I think I’ll get it on Kindle. But first, onto the wishlist!

  25. October 7, 2010 7:59 pm

    I am dying to read this one. I have only read great things about it. I was glad to read your review because you haven’t steered me wrong yet!

  26. October 7, 2010 8:29 pm

    I’m so so curious to read this book. It was one of the books I bought with my birthday money. As soon as I have my obligatory reading out of the way, I will tackle this one. I’m curious to hear Jack’s voice in particular … as I have a (just turned) 6-year-old.

  27. October 7, 2010 8:37 pm

    I’ve seen nothing but great reviews on this book! I can’t wait to read it!

  28. October 7, 2010 9:15 pm

    I’m in a bit of a reading slump … maybe ROOM is the unputdownable book I’ve been looking for!

  29. givingreadingachance permalink
    October 7, 2010 9:21 pm

    There have been rave reviews of this one everywhere. I have to get my hands on it someday.

  30. givingreadingachance permalink
    October 7, 2010 9:21 pm

    There have been rave reviews of this one everywhere. I have to get my hands on it someday. It is so nice, you got to meet the author and ask her questions, it adds to the book review a lot.

  31. October 7, 2010 10:13 pm

    This sounds like an amazing story. I don’t know if I could handle it though!

  32. October 7, 2010 10:59 pm

    I felt so incredibly dumb that I did not realize I could pay to go to the dinners at SIBA until y’all mentioned it to me and Natalie on Saturday….boy did I miss out! I want to read ROOM, I’m nervous about reading ROOM, I think I’ll cry and want to kill but oh what a gorgeous review you wrote. And how fortunate for you and Heather you were able to meet Emma! That was a great question you asked her about keeping the voice of a five year old!

  33. October 7, 2010 11:03 pm

    I can’t wait to read this book. I really need to get my hands on a copy. You can actually bid for a marked up copy (emma writes notes throughout) here:

    It’s not up yet…but if you keep an eye out, you’ll see the post!! 🙂

  34. October 7, 2010 11:23 pm

    Oh I so want to read this book! I am really intrigued to see what I think of it!

  35. October 8, 2010 12:46 am

    Oh my god!I felt like I know about the story and right until you mentioned the Fritzl case. It is touching and I cant imagine how does a 5 years ole boy possibly understand about the truth. I think I will read it. No wonder everyone is talking about it. Thanks for sharing!

    • October 8, 2010 12:51 am

      I have to say I’m scared to read it but I will try. The Fritzl case made me nearly throw up when i followed the case. i never thought we really live in a cruel world.

  36. October 8, 2010 1:31 am

    My desire to read this book gets stronger every time I read a review of it.

  37. October 8, 2010 2:00 am

    sounds like a very intense book. I’ve read a lot of good reviews for this book. Glad you liked it too.

  38. October 8, 2010 11:16 am

    I’m gearing up to read this one. I don’t do well with abductions that deal with children so I am easing my way into this one by reading all of the reviews first.

  39. October 8, 2010 2:33 pm

    I’ve seen this book and have heard the reaping accolades from many reviewers. It does leap out and it’s inspiration being the Fritzl case brings shivers up my spine.

    I’ll have to pick this up and prepare myself mentally for the author’s plot. A very heavy scenario and reality in today’s times.

    Great review Kathy, you’ve done the author justice and I’ll be putting this on the MUST READ List next.

  40. October 8, 2010 4:18 pm

    Everyone’s loved this & it’s a Booker book so I will have to read it soon, probably in December at this rate. Thanks for the review!

  41. October 8, 2010 4:42 pm

    wow this book sounds intense! i’ve seen this book around the blogosphere a bit but never paid attention to it until now. i’m not sure if my heart can take this one.

  42. October 8, 2010 5:25 pm

    Great review! Wow, I really have to get my hands on this one. It sounds different and intense.

  43. October 8, 2010 5:56 pm

    I’ve heard amazing things about this book, but I don’t know if I would be able to read it. It seems so emotionally intense. Thanks for the review.

  44. October 8, 2010 6:07 pm

    I just reviewed it myself today…and am giving away my copy.

    I think even with the subject matter, the story being told by the boy and with his viewpoint keeps it from becoming too intense.

  45. October 8, 2010 6:31 pm

    I am looking forward to reading this during the readathon. I have heard that the narrator’s voice needs getting used to, so I’ll be prepared for that.

  46. October 8, 2010 9:18 pm

    I so must read this one. I’ve read nothing but fascinating reviews of this one!!

  47. October 8, 2010 11:04 pm

    I’ve heard nothing but great things about this one. How exciting that you got to see Donoghue.

  48. October 9, 2010 1:41 am

    I so want to read this. Even with the tough subject matter. Everything I hear about it is positive.

  49. October 9, 2010 10:20 pm

    This sounds like a harsh story but one that I’ll hav to be in the right mindset to read. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this book so far. I have read Slammerkin by this author years ago and it was a well written and engrossing story. I liked her writing style. It must have been wonderful to meet the author as well.

  50. October 10, 2010 1:55 am

    This is one I really want to read. I am glad you liked it so much, Kathy.

  51. October 10, 2010 8:04 am

    I looked up the Fritzl case right after I finished the book – devastating stuff.

  52. October 11, 2010 1:57 pm

    I loved this one too! It was one of those books that rolled around in my head days after I finished it.

  53. October 12, 2010 9:59 am

    I’ve heard so many good things about this book that I’m going to have to read it at some point. Glad to know that you don’t notice after awhile that a 5-year-old is telling the story.

  54. October 13, 2010 9:19 am

    Lovely review! I think the blogosphere as a whole loved this book.

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