Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Room by Emma Donoghue

Right after Jack turns 5 years old, the world as he know it starts to change. He always thought that the room that his ma and him lived in was the whole world. He's never been outside and doesn't even know it exists. Ma told Jack that everything on television was pretend.

Jack is the narrator of the story and as it unfolds he and the reader slowly learn the truth. His Ma was kidnapped off of her college campus at the age of 19, by Old Nick. She was taken to the room, which is a converted from garden shed into a prison and she was repeatedly raped. She has been there for 7 years and gave birth to Jack while there, with no assistance.

Ma did everything she could to protect Jack from Old Nick and the truth. She tried to give Jack as normal a life as possible within the confines of the room. Each day of the week they have a routine which includes reading, writing, arithmetic, and even physical education. However, with Jack growing up it was time to reveal the truth. Room was not going to be big enough for a growing Jack for much longer.

It took a bit of time for me to get use to Jack as the narrator. He talked about the room and just about everything in it as if they were people. He knew a big vocabulary for his age however, had poor grammar, that of a 5 year old boy. Jack said, "Eggsnake is more longer than all around Room, we've been making him since I was three, he lives in Under Bed all coiled up keeping us safe."

I wasn't sure at first if I would be able to look beyond Jack's poor grammar and enjoy the story. However, I was able to and really enjoyed the book, in an uncomfortable sort of way. The subject matter was uncomfortable and my heart ached for both Ma and Jack. By the time I was finished reading 'Room', I didn't want it to end.

I recently saw Emma Donoghue at the 23 Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival. You can read my coverage of it and my question to Ms. Donoghue, with her response, here.


Thanks to Brad Parsons of Hachette Book Group for sending me this book for review.

Also reviewed by:
Thoughts of Joy
The Written World
Farm Lane Books
A Bookworm's World
Shhh I'm Reading... 

Did you review this book as well?  Leave a link in the comments and I will post it.


So glad you gave this one a chance, Teddy - like you, I struggled with Jack's voice for the first part, but then fell in love with him and was captivated by the story. Thanks for the link love!

I've had this sitting on the shelf and have read so many glowing reviews that I'm afraid to read it now for fear of disappointment! Maybe I'll let it sit for a while.

It took me a little while to adjust to Jack's language, but once I did, I was hooked. I'm glad you loved it too.

Wendy and Kathy, I'm glad I stuck with it.

Michele, I understand completely. Not all books live up to the hype. I found this one delivers.

Alot of buzz about this book, definitely one to keep in mind for future reading -- thanks for the review, Teddy!

Thank you for this review.. I have been hearing great things about this book but tend to avoid books with child abuse in them. I may just give it a try.

How much of a chance do you think this book as in the CanadaReads book of the decade competition?

I've got this on my list of books to read.

Teena, I hope you enjoy it!

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