Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Room (Donoghue)

Title: Room
Author: Emma Donoghue
Genre: Adult fiction
Pages: 268
Rating: 5 out of 5
FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own hard-earned money
Summary (from Donogue's website): To five-year-old Jack, Room is the world... It's where he was born, it's where he and Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. There are endless wonders that loose Jack's imagination--the snake under Bed that he constructs out of eggshells, the imaginary world projected through the TV, the coziness of Wardrobe beneath Ma's clothes, where she tucks him in safely at night, in case Old Nick comes.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it's the prison where she's been held since she was nineteen--for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in that eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But Jack's curiosity is building alongside her own desperation--and she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely....

Review: I had read so much about this book (while avoiding most details in the reviews) and as I posted in my Book Beginnings last Friday I decided to take it with me to Vegas this past weekend. I wasn't sure I would have time to read it, but Suzanne from Bibliosue commented on my Book Beginnings that I would want to stay in the hotel room and read. She was so right! Sunday morning I snuck away from the dance convention for an hour and a half to finish this book. What's even better is that the girls I was chaperoning (ages 10 and 12) asked me what the book was about on Friday night. When I told them they were fascinated and whenever they saw me reading they asked for a plot update. We had interesting discussions and they hadn't even read the book!

 I think this book is really fascinating and would love my book group to read it so I can discuss it with other people face-to-face. If the story had been told from the mother's perspective the book would have been far too disturbing and graphic, but having the five-year-old as the narrator makes it much easier to read. He has that great combination of childhood innocence and only-child-who-only-talks-to-an-adult vocabulary and concepts. His whole world is Room and that makes sense to him because it's all he knows. Once they are "outside" things just don't make sense to him anymore; it's all so much for him to take in. One of the things that I found very interesting is his depth perception problem and the fact that he couldn't see distances because he hadn't needed to in Room.

The reaction of people on the outside to Jack and his mother was well represented. From the dad who didn't want to be near Jack (since he is the product of a monstrous act) to the mom who wants all the details of their captivity to the crazy media folks who want to boost their ratings and create scandal, it all seems real and accurate. The one big flaw for me is that Ma and Jack get to live in an independent living center much too quickly after their release from the hospital.

Overall I think the story is gripping and interesting and this is a definite read. While the topic is totally creepy, Donogue manages to make it manageable by telling it from a child's perspective.

6 comments:

Suzanne said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
It is definitely a book perfect for discussion groups.

mummazappa said...

I just won a copy of this, it's my next read I can't wait!

Amused said...

Great review - I agree I was really impressed with how well everyone was presented in the 'real' world once they got out. Such a compelling book!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Suzanne--Luckily I was in a room with a lot of people as I finished this book and one of them had read it so we went off in a corner to talk about it

Mummazappa--Can't wait to hear what you think of it; it is so intriguing!

Amused--Compelling is a good word for it. Now that I've read it I'll have to revisit people's reviews and read them more thoroughly

nomadreader (Carrie) said...

So glad you loved this one too!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Carrie--It really was an amazing book. I find that I keep thinking about it