Saturday, December 25, 2010


Room by Emma Donoghue
Little, Brown & Company, September 2010

Hardcover, 321 pages
ISBN-13: 9780316098335
very highly recommended

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.

My Thoughts:

For me, Room by Emma Donoghue certainly lived up to all the accolades. At the start of the novel Jack and his mother are celebrating his fifth birthday. They live in the only home Jack has ever known: Room, a tiny, 11-foot-square soundproofed cell in a converted shed. Jack's mother was kidnapped seven years earlier when she was a 19-year-old college student and Jack was born in this cell. The entire novel is narrated by Jack and seen through his eyes. Jack's entire existence and everything he knows about the world is from living in Room.

I really think it is best to leave it at that for anyone who has not yet read Room. While some have had difficulties with a child narrating the story, I didn't. In fact, I thought it made Room a more powerful novel. If it does bother you, keep reading and treat it like a child is telling you about his day. Pay careful attention to what he is telling you about his life with his mother - their world and routine. I need to note the fact that I was so engrossed in the story that I completely lost track of time when reading this novel.

Room would make a wonderful book club selection. There are so many different aspects of this novel that I would love to discuss with someone who has read it but I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't. Room will easily make the list of my top books of the year.
Very Highly Recommended

Today I'm five. I was four last night going to sleep in Wardrobe, but when I wake up in Bed in the dark I'm changed to five. abracadabra. opening

I don't think he came last night after nine, the air's always different if he came. I don't ask because she doesn't like saying about him. pg. 4

I count one hundred cereal and waterfall the milk that's nearly the same white as the bowls, no splashing, we thank Baby Jesus. I choose Meltedy Spoon with the white all blobby on his handle when he leaned on the pan of boiling pasta by accident. Ma doesn't like Meltedy Spoon but he's my favorite because he's not the same. pg. 6

"You should have asked for candles for Sundaytreat."
"Well, last week we needed painkillers."
"I didn't need any, just you," I shouted.
Ma looks at me like I have a new face she's never seen. Then she says, "Anyway, remember, we have to choose things he can get easily."
"But he can get anything."
"Well, yeah," she says, "if he went to the trouble - "
"Why he went to trouble?"
"I just mean, he might have to go to two or three stores, and that would make him cranky. And what if he didn't find the impossible thing, then we probably wouldn't get Sunday treat at all."
"But Ma." I laugh. "He doesn't go in stores. Stores are in TV." pg. 23

There's light flashing at me, it stabs my eyes. I look out of Duvet but squinting. Ma standing beside Lamp and everything bright, then snap and dark again. Light again, she makes it last three seconds then dark, then light for just a second. Ma's staring up at Skylight. Dark again. She does this in the night, I think it helps her get to sleep again. pg. 27

After nap we do Scream every day but not on Saturdays or Sundays. We clear out our throats and climb up on Table to be nearer Skylight, holding hands not to fall. We say "On your mark, get set, go," then we open wide our teeth and shout holler howl yowl shriek screech scream the loudest possible. pg. 40

How can TV be pictures of real things?
I think about them all floating around in Outside Space outside the walls, the couch and the necklaces and the bread and the killers and the airplanes and all the shes and hes, the boxers and the man with one leg and the puffy-hair woman, they're floating past Skylight. I wave to them, but there's skyscrapers as well and cows and ships and trucks, it's crammed out there, I count all the stuff that might crash into Room. I can't breathe right, I have to count my teeth instead, left to right on the top then right to left on the bottom, then backwards, twenty every time but I still think maybe I'm counting wrong. pg. 61-62

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