Room, by Emma Donoghue, has been on my to-read list for the longest time. I recently found it for $2 at my favorite used bookstore, and after seeing the trailer for the upcoming eponymous movie, I finally got around to reading the book. All I can say is Wow!
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 entirely written from the perspective of Jack, who has quite an impressive vocabulary for someone his age. Emma Donoghue is able to turn such a harrowing and gruesome story into a story about love, hope, and relationships. The book also manages to work in a hilarious and sharp social commentary and observations in our modern society. I found myself laughing a lot more than I thought possible. Once I picked it up, I was unable to put it down until I finished the book!
I especially liked the character of Ma. She is trying her best to protect Jack from the world, but she is lost and confused as well. Jack is all that she has in Room with her, and we see her struggle between treating him like her child, her friend, and her co-conspirator. She is such a strong, imperfect and flawed character, and I think Donoghue was able to convey a lot about her through Jack’s voice. There are parts that Jack doesn’t understand, but we, the readers, are able to read between the lines and glean an extra layer of truth about what is really going on. I wouldn’t describe this book as a “thriller” – it isn’t gory or suspenseful in the way thrillers are, but there is a certain quality about it that will send chills down your spine and keep you turning pages.
I would recommend this book for readers who like strong female characters, books written from a non-traditional point of view, and fans of Law & Order and Orange is the New Black.
- The subject matter of the book is very dark – there may be triggers for some people, so I would advise you to approach this book with caution!
- There are always resources for survivors of sexual assaults. For more information, please consider reading about SAVA or RAINN.
- Room will soon be coming to a theater near you! Check out the trailer here.
- Buy the book here or read an excerpt here.