Room by Emma Donoghue

Well, this is a tough one to write a review for.  It’s difficult to write too much without giving anything away – although if you’re interested in reading this book you probably already have a pretty good idea of what it’s about.  I think this book could turn out to be Marmite for some people who will either love it or hate it.  Although I didn’t particularly love or hate it.  The book is basically told in two halves and is told in the voice of Jack, a five year old boy.  It tells the tale of Jack and his Ma who live in a room, 11 ft sq, with no windows except a skylight.

I didn’t think I was going to like the book when I first started.  It begins with Jack giving a narrative of each day and how he and his ma spend their day together filling up time.  But, eventually the story starts to unfold and the true reality of the situation becomes apparent.  The story then builds up to a fairly gripping sequence of events which conclude the first half of the book.  The second half of the book is really about a voyage of discovery for Jack and I enjoyed this in so far as there were so many things that had never occured to me – however it did start to drag a little bit during the last few chapters.

Personally, I think this book may have benefitted if the mother had also told some of the story – especially in the second half.  I think the mother’s POV told during the first half of the book would probably have been too harrowing but during the second half I would have liked to hear about some of the experiences she was having.  Telling the whole book in the voice of a five year old, even an articulate one, does lend it a bit of a childishness that I would have liked to have seen balanced out more by an adult perspective.  Also, Jack telling the tale does exclude you from certain points of the story as he is protected from the reality of the situation.  That being said it is a very clever book with genuine moments of humour usually when Jack misinterprets something.

What this book does manage to do is tell a tale of the powerful love between the mother and son and the lengths the mother goes to to protect him and give him as normal a childhood as she can given the constraints.  It’s an emotional book and definitely makes you feel a bit uncomfortable in parts as the full horror of the situation unfolds.

Whilst I might not ‘love’ this book I think it’s definitely worth reading, it’s a compelling read (even though for me a few chapters ebbed a bit) and has certainly provoked a lot of debate so give it a go and join in the discussion!

Rating B



3 Responses to “Room by Emma Donoghue”

  1. Allison

    I own this, but haven’t read it yet. Very intriguing review!

    (and, to answer your questions from my Name of the Wind review…yes I’ve read Kristen Cashore’s books, but not The Painted Man…although it is on my radar so I’ll get there! 🙂 Can’t wait for the sequel to Name of the Wind in March!)

  2. Early Days | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Room by Emma Donoghue […]

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