Tuesday, February 15, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Room by Emma Donoghue

You’ve probably seen the buzz about Room by Emma Donoghue. Although this book is outside my usual reading fare, and despite the fact that Slammerkin was not a favorite of mine, I was intrigued by all the glowing reviews. I just finished it and I have to add my voice to the choir singing its praises—this book is superb!

Room manages to take a profoundly disturbing premise and create a story of innocence and resilience. Using a child’s voice, Donoghue is able to place the reader in a claustrophobic and monotonous circumstance, and yet fill the book with so much dramatic tension I could not put it down.

Jack has just turned five. He has spent his entire life confined to a one-room shed, imprisoned with his mother. Jack sleeps in the wardrobe so that he will not be seen by the scary man, Old Nick, who visits them each night. Until now, Jack has not really understood that he and his mother are prisoners. He only knew that "Room" was real, and thought that everything else was not. When his mother fears she can no longer keep him safe, she decides they must attempt to escape. (She tried before Jack was born; and Old Nick punished and threatened her. With Jack’s birth, she has been focused only on protecting him.)

The harrowing events of the escape attempt are only the beginning of the trials Jack must face.
Donoghue does an extraordinary job capturing the thoughts of a child, but just as effectively, she brings to life the strength and fragility of Jack’s mother. This is a beautifully written, moving book. Have you read it yet? What did you think?


  1. Oh, I couldn't agree more with your review. Though I found young Jack's narration rather grating at times, it was just further proof how well Donoghue created him--because I usually find 5 year old boys rather grating at times! And the way she followed through with the aftermath of the escape and the psychological implications was great, too.

  2. I am such a huge fan of this book! Donoghue did such a great job of creating an authentic voice for Jack.