Monday, December 16, 2019

Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Pub. Date: May 18th 2011
Source: Goodwill

Book Description:

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.



Four and a half stars, rounded up.

I'm not quite sure how to review this book. It seems wrong to say that I liked it, given that it's about rape and abduction. But, it was so hauntingly and beautifully written, that it was enjoyable to read, even with the dark (and it is DARK) subject matter.

I didn't realize when I picked this book up that it was going to be written from the perspective of the five year old son, Jack, who has been held captive in the "room" his entire life. It was shocking, but it works so well as a literary tool. He doesn't understand life, not like you or me. Because there is no life outside of "room". He doesn't understand why his mom gets sad, or angry, or tired with him. He doesn't understand that she was raped and enslaved and kidnapped. But as an adult reading through his eyes, you can see between the lines, and see how much fight the mom has in her, and how she copes with this horrible life she's been dealt, and how much she does for her son so that he can try to have happiness, even in personal little hell.

The emotions are high and tense because children feel so deeply. Each cutting word, each sigh, each scream, it's all vivid and it's all felt. You grow to care for Jack and his mother, hoping that they will be safe, that they will live, that they will get free. Jack is written as so brave but so frightened at the same time. When outside of Room, he has to learn things that I would have never thought about, like how to climb stairs. It's heartbreaking but hopeful.

The room is written in such vivid detail that I feel like I could envision every part of it, from the worn floors to the ceiling window. The characters are well described too, Donoghue is very good at showing instead of telling, and it visualizes very well. It's no wonder that someone read this and thought it would make a good movie. It's very dramatic and cinematic, and while I have not seen the movie (and I'm not quite sure I want to), I can totally imagine it on screen.

This book covers so many hard to swallow topics: child abuse, rape, kidnapping, enslavement, suicide, depression, miscarriage, overdose, the "need to know all the gory details" coverage of the media. And Emma Donoghue navigates them expertly. This is a raw, emotional, powerful, and often times painful story, measured with hope, perseverance, and love. It's not an easy book to get through, but it's a book that I'm very glad that I read.

If you are a fan of things like true crime and ID channel, than this book might be something you want to read. If you have any aversion to any of the topics that I've mentioned here, than I don't recommend it, because you will probably find it incredibly troubling and upsetting.


Post a Comment