Title: Room: A Novel
Author: Emma Donoghue
Release Date: September 13, 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown and Co.
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Five-year-old Jack lives in Room with his mother. In Room, there is Chair and Bed and Wardrobe and Meltedy Spoon. Outside Room is Outer Space. Old Nick comes from Outer Space and brings food and Sunday treats. Jack has lived in Room all his life and doesn’t believe there is anything outside.
Room is an incredibly difficult novel to describe or discuss without giving away key plot points, hence the extremely sketchy summary above that only reveals information from the first few pages of the book. Other summaries (including the publisher’s) reveal a lot of information, but this is a book that works best if you don’t know at all what to expect.
Jack’s five-year-old voice definitely takes some getting used to. He’s a smart child, advanced educationally because he has spent so much time one on one with his mother. However, he isn’t socialized at all, clearly, since he has spent his entire life in Room. He’s never difficult to understand, though sometimes it takes some slow reading to comprehend exactly what he’s talking about. Once the reader adjusts to his method of speaking, though, the novel goes incredibly fast. Donoghue did an amazing job writing the voice of a five-year-old. He’s never unbelievably precocious and his thoughts are simple and precise.
This is an incredibly disturbing and emotional book because of what Jack and his mother go through. Jack’s Ma was my age, so I could really relate to her and what she felt. Her experiences, though, were so foreign to me. I couldn’t imagine being stuck inside a 500 square foot room for seven years of my life. It was completely horrifying, and I really admired her for how well she held herself together. It often seemed like she didn’t have any strength left, yet she always found something for Jack. He gave her a purpose in life. Their love for each other was pure and sweet, and it was clear that no matter what they were put through, they would be okay if they were together.
I have to admit, while I did like this book, I would have enjoyed it more had I witnessed it from Jack’s mother’s point of view. While Jack’s voice was very well-written, it was his mother and her traumas that really intrigued me. I would have loved to know more about her psychological issues from the trauma she experienced.
I can’t talk much more about Room without discussing the specifics of the novel, so I’ll have to leave you with this sketchy review. I did really love this book; I was planning on reading it slowly, over multiple days, and that worked for the first fifty pages. Once I got to page one hundred, though, I found that I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what happened, to know that Jack and his Ma would be okay. This was an exceptional novel, and I can’t wait to explore Donoghue’s backlist.