Room, by Emma Donoghue

RoomHey, remember that time I read a book for book club and had nothing to say about it later? Fact: I got to this month’s meeting and someone asked if I liked Room better than the last book we read, and I was like… what book? We read a book last month?

Guys, Room is soooo much more interesting and discussable than whatever that other book was. Perfect book club choice. Highly recommend.

And I would even recommend the book! Several of my club-mates were not thrilled with it, largely because Donoghue chose to make the narrator a five-year-old who knows lots of big words but little proper grammar. I can’t fault them, either; I read through the first fifty pages or so and was like, this is going to get old fast. Five-year-olds definitely do not talk like this. But then — and here, I think, is the secret — I listened to the next hundred pages or so. The woman who voiced Jack, our child protagonist, was amazing, and I found myself recalling that five-year-olds in fact love big words and don’t care about grammar.

I also found myself completely drawn in to the story of Jack and Ma, who share a room called Room that you soon find out is some horrible soundproof shed that Ma was kidnapped to several years ago by some awful guy known to Jack and the reader only as Old Nick. Creepy and gross. Jack has only ever known Room, so he and Ma live in their own little world with their own customs. But there’s an obvious tension between him and Ma when they talk about Room and Outside, and even more so when Ma starts to tell Jack what’s really going on.

I’m not sure if this is a book that can be spoiled, really, but I did find myself constantly wondering what was going to happen next so I’ll let you have that experience if you haven’t already. 🙂 I think it’s safe to say that that tension absolutely does not go away, and that Donoghue’s examination of life and the world from an alien point of view is what made the book so interesting to me. Even if you’ve never been in quite the same situation as Jack, I think anyone can relate to the idea of learning something you can’t unlearn (Santa Claus oh no!) and how dramatically it can change your life.

Recommendation: For those who’d like to know what happens to the victims on all those crime procedurals when they’re not getting rescued.

Rating: 9/10

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12 thoughts on “Room, by Emma Donoghue

    • Alison says:

      Yeah, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book — I had an idea of how it would start, but definitely not how it would end!

  1. Steph says:

    I admit, I am one of those readers who did not get the appeal of this book at all. I pretty much loathed it, mostly because I thought Donoghue nailed her child narrator a little too well. Turns out most 5-year-olds don’t have tons that is insightful to say about the world… maybe this is why more of them don’t publish books.

    Seriously, I am sure that Donoghue is a talented author and I would try something else she has written, but I could not have disliked this book more.

    • Alison says:

      Well, you are definitely not alone! I’m just a sucker for a “person who finds the world everyone else lives in absolutely baffling” story, I think. 🙂

  2. Amy says:

    Thank you for reminding me of this! I meant to read it when it came out and then completely forgot about it.

  3. Lucybird says:

    I thought this book was fantastic, and I found Jack’s voice really authentic. I found it a little difficult to write a review without spoilers though!

    • Alison says:

      Yeah, it’s one of those books that’s too easy to spoil, though I think that some people in my book club would have liked it better if they had known what to expect. Darn finicky people! 🙂

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