Room by Emma Donoghue
I first came across this book when I was searching through online Book Challenges. One blogger had a list for all of the books nominated for 2010’s Man Booker Prize. To be honest, I didn’t really know what that was, so I looked it up. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, first awarded in 1969, promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year. The fiction novels are written by citizens of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. After looking at the book cover, I was intrigued. So I read the blurb on the back cover. The concept of the story line seemed disturbing – but there were a lot of positive reviews out there, so I decided I had to at least check it out. Room turned out to be nothing like what I was bracing myself for; instead, it was a beautiful tale of discovery, of insight, of growth and relationships, of growing pains and life-changing events. There are underlying disturbing foundations to the story, but as it is told through Jack’s eyes and voice, those are not the focus of the book.
THE FIRST LINE
“Today I’m five.”
FROM THE PUBLISHER
To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. 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 is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.
Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another. Copyright 2010 Little, Brown and Company
Goodreads: 3.97 Stars (67,798 Reviews)
Amazon: 4.1 Stars (1,214 Reviews)
Barnes & Noble: 4.0 Stars (2,541 Reviews)
My Rating: 5 Stars. The entire concept is disturbing…yet the story is intriguing…I couldn’t put it down!
Wow. Really, just wow. This book is, by far, my favorite read of 2011. I admit that coming into it, I was skeptical. As with all books written in a different narrative voice, it took a little while for me to get into the flow and start reading with Jack’s voice, but once I did, the reading took a life of its own. Jack’s mother had been kidnapped and placed inside a stifling 11′ x 11′ room, with a bathroom, some basic cooking equipment, and a TV. After a few years in captivity, she gives birth to Jack. His view of “the world” is so limited – he’s never even experienced the outside, such as sunshine or wind. Why is this book so amazing? For me, it is the depth of the mother’s love: she manages to create, in great detail, an outside world for Jack. While only possessing a few old books, she spins stories, creates games, and tries to make the best of an impossible situation. She teaches him history, science, and scores of other topics. She teaches him good and bad, and most of all, bravery. She does this tirelessly, never dwelling in pity. She puts her energy instead into making Jack a more empathetic and kind child than most in the outside world. What imagination it had to have taken to create this realistic view of such horror and innocence.
Have you read the book? If not, would you consider reading it?