Room – Emma Donoghue

Like any five year old boy, Jack is excited about his birthday. But it does not all go according to plan. There are no candles on his cake only five chocolates and the present was not quite as he was expecting. Jack is suddenly growing up and questioning, like any five year old boy.

Except Jack is not any five year old boy. He has never left Room since he was born, Wardrobe is his bed, Rug is his playmate, moved out the way for physical education when necessary and Television shows you all the other planets out there. Room is his world and his Ma is the only other person in it. Apart from Old Nick. Old Nick provides something that Ma does not like and Jack has to listen to whilst counting his teeth (twenty by the way). The world is changing outside and in Room, and suddenly Jack has to learn fast.

Narrated by Jack himself, this book took me at least twenty pages to get into, once I had ‘the’ voice I then flew through the book at a pace, I was captured  in Jack and Ma’s story. I wanted to see whether the world of Room was sustainable for any longer? Would Old Nick suddenly become something else other than captor and rapist? How would the world react to what was going on in Room? Somehow Emma Donoghue whilst maintaining the voice of a five year old boy answers all these questions and raises more.  Where is safe in the world for someone so young? Can we ever go back and capture that to the same degree?

I admired Ma for forming some sort of structure for Jack’s life but something that encapsulated an education from almost the beginning of his life. More apparent once Room went back to being just one place in a world of many. Jack irritated me but I recognise reflecting back on the book, that was because I felt him too adult and I was looking at it as such. Recognition must go to Donoghue for keeping his voice throughout, when she could quite easily have slipped out of it and taken up another voice. Many have found this particular style irritating and I can see why, but if you can power through it what you get is a spell biding tale weaved which evokes many emotions.

I am rather late to this book. It seems to be the way, I pick up and buy the most ‘in’ books and they remain on my shelf unread for over 12 months as was the case with this book. However, when I chose it for the next book in my book club I knew it had to come off the shelf and be read. And so it was in about three days. 

Then comes the problem of what to write in the review – how can you put another take on a book that has been reviewed on Amazon over 800 times and 18000 on Goodreads!? In your own style is the way, and I hope I have captured the book with my own review. So much can be said but the fear of giving so much away is quite clear. 

I am still pondering the book, mainly because Monday sees us coming together to discuss it. I still cannot get formulated in my mind why I did not like Jack? Whatever I will pop back with a book club round up of the book. 

I am interested to hear if anyone else has read any other Emma Donoghue books? How do they read and are they as compelling? 

3 thoughts on “Room – Emma Donoghue

  1. That’s what I do with ‘in’ books too – I’ve still not read Room or The Help!

    I have read one of her other books, The Sealed Letter. It is a completely different book, being historical fiction about a scandalous divorce trial in Victorian Britian. It was a good read and it flowed nicely, but I wouldn’t exactly call it compelling.

  2. I loved Room, but also tried The Sealed Letter. As Sam says it is very different. It is packed with historical detail, but I became bored by the endless court scenes. I didn’t make it to the end. I think her other books are more similar to The Sealed Letter than Room, but I’m still willing to give them a try. Fingers crossed I enjoy them more than The Sealed Letter.

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